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Zimbabwe – Mujuru and Tsvangirai form alliance to fight Mugabe

NehandaRadio

Tsvangirai, Mujuru finally seal poll pact

By Fungi Kwaramba

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former Vice President Joice Mujuru yesterday fired warning shots at President Robert Mugabe and his warring ruling Zanu PF — signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Harare ahead of the finalisation of the planned grand coalition as the make-or-break 2018 elections approach.

Tsvangirai and Mujuru form alliance to challenge Mugabe
Tsvangirai and Mujuru form alliance to challenge Mugabe

This comes as the mindless bloodletting that is devouring Zanu PF has escalated in the past few weeks, resulting even in the party’s national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, coming under serious pressure to resign from his post over a slew of charges — including bizarre claims of plotting to oust Mugabe from power.

Describing yesterday’s developments as historic, a buoyant Tsvangirai said the two opposition leading lights had decided to join hands after realising that Mugabe and Zanu PF had “no clue” about how to end the myriad challenges afflicting Zimbabwe.

“We have chosen to give hope to the people of Zimbabwe … that indeed there is a bright light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

“We have taken the first step to bring all Zimbabweans under one roof so that we can work together to remove the unmitigated repression and misgovernance that pervades our lives.

“I am pleased to inform the nation that today we have signed a memorandum with Mai Mujuru of the National People’s Party (NPP) … to establish a pre-election alliance en route to the establishment of a coalition government which shall drive a comprehensive democratisation and transformation agenda.

“This is just the beginning of the building blocks towards establishing a broad alliance to confront Zanu PF between now and 2018,” Tsvangirai said.

The indefatigable former labour union leader emphasised that the door had not been slammed on other smaller parties being part of the pact, with “similar arrangements” to be decided with them soon.

“While political parties have their role in nation-building, it must be understood that they are not the only key stakeholders.

“We are in this together with other key stakeholders such as traditional leaders, the Church, labour, vendors, war veterans, civic society, business and the generality of Zimbabweans.

“This is our collective struggle and I call upon the people of Zimbabwe to join hands with us and play their part as well so that we can reclaim our country, our freedom and our dignity,” Tsvangirai added.

“Even at the ripe old age of 93, president Mugabe knows that the country’s crisis is unsustainable. Every Zimbabwean from every station of life knows it too.

“So, we should all stand together in unison and say enough is enough. As president Mugabe enters the sunset of his life, it is incumbent upon all of us to pick the pieces and rebuild our country together.

“I hope the understanding we reached today, and which we will reach with many others, will culminate in a solid political co-operation agreement that should usher in a new governance culture in our country,” he said further.

On her part, Mujuru promised “greater things” for long-suffering Zimbabweans.

“We were being asked by people wherever we would go about when we would form the coalition. It took about six months to discuss the coalition.

“We know your expectations are very high … what we want to see is a greater Zimbabwe again … We are going to deliver a new Zimbabwe,” she said.

According to the two opposition leaders, the MoU would act as a roadmap towards forming the planned grand coalition which is expected to be in place before next year’s eagerly-anticipated national elections.

Optimism has been high ever since Tsvangirai and Mujuru publicly flaunted their readiness to join forces against the ruling party, when they appeared together in Gweru last August.

In a move that political analysts described as “very significant”, Mujuru held hands and also joined Tsvangirai then during a massive demonstration in Gweru that was organised by the former prime minister in the government of national unity’s MDC.

Analysts have also repeatedly said Mujuru, whose liberation struggle nom de guerre was Teurai Ropa (Spill Blood), and whose husband Solomon was the first black post-independence army commander, could provide the much-needed bridge that opposition parties have been missing to ensure the smooth transfer of power if they win elections again.

However, they have also warned that without a broad coalition involving all the major opposition players, Zanu PF would use “its usual thuggish and foul methods” to retain power in 2018.

In 2008, her late husband Rex was accused by Mugabe and other Zanu PF bigwigs of having engineered the 93-year-old’s stunning electoral defeat to Tsvangirai in that year’s hotly disputed polls.

Last week, a bullish Tsvangirai vowed to finish off Mugabe and his deeply-divided Zanu PF — adding that he stood ready to lead the planned grand coalition.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily News then, Tsvangirai said he had “no doubt whatsoever” that the MDC — working together with other opposition parties — would, like it did in 2008, once again defeat Zanu PF in 2018 and bring to an end Mugabe’s long but tumultuous rule.

“I stand ready to heed the calls by Zimbabweans that I lead … Indeed, when I moved across the country, the people said I should lead.

“So, if that is what people want, then I am ready to lead the coalition. But this should not be about individuals but about Zimbabwe.

“Indeed, the fight for democracy in Zimbabwe is not between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, but between long-suffering Zimbabweans and a heartless, looting Zanu PF,” Tsvangirai said.

“The commitment towards forming a grand coalition is there … But we must exercise due diligence in regard to our partners.

“Imagine at the end, just before elections you have people who will say ‘I was not part of the talks’ … so due diligence is very important,” added the dogged former labour union leader, as he explained why it was taking long to conclude the mooted coalition talks.

Soon after, Mujuru signalled her readiness to join Tsvangirai in the planned electoral pact when she said the mooted grand opposition coalition was the only way of extricating the country from its economic problems.

“As NPP, we believe that what ought to be 37 years of independence has been turned into 37 years of slavery and misery to Zimbabweans.

“We believe we have capacity as Zimbabweans to extricate ourselves out of the social, economic and political mess we find ourselves in as a result of Zanu PF’s failed government.

“It is time that all progressive forces within the rank and file of opposition parties put their differences aside and face the failed Zanu PF government as a united front by every constitutional means necessary come 2018.

“Our people never went to war so that the destiny of our country can be turned into political dynasties.

“Zimbabweans deserve to be free and that freedom has to be exercised now. To that end, as NPP we urge all the progressive forces within the rank and file of the opposition parties of this country to go back to the basics of the revolutionary ideals of oneness.

“It is our belief as NPP that what divides us as opposition political parties is smaller than what binds us as a country. Our motto should therefore be united we stand, divided we fall,” she said.

BBC

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses a rally to mark the country"s 37th independence anniversary in Harare, Zimbabwe, April 18, 2017.Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Robert Mugabe has said he is not losing sleep over the coalition

Two of Zimbabwe’s best known opposition figures have agreed to form an alliance against President Robert Mugabe.

Long-time Mugabe critic Morgan Tsvangirai and former Vice-President Joice Mujuru say they will work together in next year’s election.

However, it is not yet clear which of them will be the presidential candidate.

Mr Mugabe, 93, has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980 and has said he will seek re-election.

“This is just the beginning of the building blocks towards establishing a broad alliance to confront Zanu-PF between now and the next election,” Mr Tsvangirai told journalists.


Real test lies ahead: Shingai Nyoka, BBC News, Harare

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (L) and fomer Vice President Joice Mujuru(R) sign a Memorandum of Understanding to negotiate coalition ahead of 2018 general election in Harare April 19th 2017Image copyright AFP

The alliance is an important first step towards uniting a deeply divided opposition.

And if this alliance succeeds it will be the first time President Mugabe has faced a united opposition on this scale since coming into power in 1980.

At least a dozen parties are expected to be part of the coalition.

Former Vice-President Joice Mujuru who was fired from the ruling Zanu-PF party in 2014 was the first to sign a pact with Morgan Tsvangirai. She says it follows six months of consultations.

A Movement for Democratic Change splinter group has now also come on board.

Divisions among the opposition have been blamed for previous electoral losses.

For the first time, Mr Tsvangirai apologised for this and accepted responsibility for the mistakes made in the past. His party has split four ways since it was formed in 1999.

Ms Mujuru’s National People’s Party recently splintered after less than a year.

But the real test for the opposition lies ahead. The parties still need to hammer out the terms of this alliance. In particular who will lead the coalition.

President Mugabe is a formidable opponent. He has been accused of stealing elections and using violence to stay in power.


Mr Mugabe has previously said he would not be losing any sleep over the proposed coalition.

Mr Tsvangirai has run against Mr Mugabe several times since he helped found the Movement for Democratic Change.

Each time he has said he was denied victory because of violence and rigging – charges denied by Mr Mugabe and his allies.

He became prime minister in a tension-filled coalition government with Mr Mugabe from 2009 until 2013.

Ms Mujuru was vice-president to Mr Mugabe for 10 years until she was fired in 2014.

Zimbabwe – opposition politicians squabble over 2018 election coalition

Zimbabwe Independent

THAT a coalition of opposition political parties and movements is seen as a formidable force to end President Robert Mugabe’s prolonged rule appears to be an open secret for many Zimbabweans pinning their hopes on a political solution to halt socio-economic implosion.

By Wongai Zhangazha

But haggling, jostling and inflated egos have impeded progress towards a pact.

The better part of 2016 saw the idea to form a united front to remove Mugabe from power in the 2018 general elections hanging in the balance as opposition parties spent time focussing on serious contestations and jockeying for power before formal negotiations had even begun.

Mugabe’s controversial rule has been characterised by massive company closures, deteriorating public health facilities, increased poverty levels, high unemployment, among other signs of failure. This has given social movements and political parties the impetus to coalesce and challenge his stay in power.

Mugabe will be 94 when Zimbabwe goes to the 2018 elections.

However, sectarian differences among the opposition parties have undermined the nascent pact as political actors scramble to position their preferred candidates in the race to lead the coalition.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Zimbabwe People First leader Joice Mujuru are seen as front runners to lead the coalition.

Mujuru’s supporters want her to lead the coalition because they say she has liberation credentials while MDC-T members say their leader Tsvangirai has been in the opposition trenches longer and has beaten Mugabe before in the 2008 March elections.

Moreover, some opposition parties do not trust Mujuru, saying her decision to form a political party was not out of choice but the result of ejection from a party she served for 34 years in various capacities including that of vice-president.

In Bulawayo at the MDC-T’s 17th anniversary celebrations last year the slogan was “2018 Tsvangirai chete chete” (Tsvangirai for president 2018), a warning that they will not accept another person leading the coalition.

However, Tsvangirai’s disclosure that he was battling cancer of the colon reignited fierce debate as to who should lead the coalition.

Parties in the coalition talks have attacked each other publicly. An example is People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti’s acerbic attack on Tsvangirai in December, denouncing him as foolish and tactless.

This made it even more difficult for the fragmented opposition parties to work together.

Tsvangirai, in a statement, hit back in apparent reference to Biti, saying his party sought a pact “that minimises the unknowns by providing an equitable and scientific and objective basis for approaching the election based on known strengths of political leaders and parties nationally and in given electoral districts”.

Analysts said Tsvangirai’s type of coalition shuts out the likes of Biti, whose PDP party has not contested in any election since its formation two years ago.

In May, five opposition parties formed a coalition called the Coalition of Democrats (Code) to challenge Mugabe and his Zanu PF party in the 2018 general elections.

The parties were Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn led by Simba Makoni, Welshman Ncube’s Movement for Democratic Change formation, Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe led by Elton Mangoma, Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment and Zimbabweans United for Democracy.

PDP and Zapu led by liberation icon Dumiso Dabengwa were not eager to join the coalition, saying they wanted to consult their members.

Three months later, 20 opposition political parties came together to form the National Electoral Reforms Agenda (Nera) to push for electoral reforms ahead of the elections.

The move was seen as a precursor to an electoral pact.

Some political parties met in South Africa last year in talks to concretise a coalition but it was snubbed by both ZimPF and MDC-T.

In September last year Nera tried to organise demonstrations against Mugabe and his government but they flopped after it was crushed by the police. Despite the promise of more protests, they never materialised.

Political analysts this week said the bickering among opposition political parties should stop in 2017 as this year is critical for opposition parties to demonstrate maturity and agree on how best they can work together ahead of the elections in 2018.

Zimbabwe – opposition parties to protest in favour of electoral reform

Reuters

 

Zimbabwean opposition parties will on Saturday hold protests throughout the country with or without police clearance to press the election agency for free elections in 2018, officials said, weeks after another planned demonstration turned violent.

Police on August 26 fired tear gas and water cannon at opposition leaders and hundreds of demonstrators at an anti-government protest, before unrest swept across large parts of the capital Harare.

Eighteen opposition parties under the National Election Reform Agenda (NERA) say the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is biased in favour of President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF and is run by security agents loyal to Mugabe, charges the agency denies.

The parties want the next vote in 2018 to be supervised by international observers, including the United Nations and seek changes in election laws they say hinder a free and fair vote.

“We are going ahead with the demonstration with or without their (police) blessing. We don’t need their permission, we have the law in our favour, we are sure we are right,” NERA official and Movement for Democratic Change secretary general Douglas Mwonzora told reporters.

Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba was not reachable for comment.Navy

Under Zimbabwe’s security laws, protest organisers only need to notify the police of their plans, but law enforcement agents routinely refuse to sanction opposition demonstrations.

Saturday’s protest will come after the High Court last week struck down a two-week ban on public protests that had been issued by the police in the capital Harare.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; editing by Ralph Boulton)

Zimbabwe – Mujuru going all out for 2018 election

Zimbabwe Independent

Mujuru pulls out all stops for 2018

FORMER vice-president and leader of the People First group, Joice Mujuru — who dominated mainstream media headlines and trended on the social media this week — is pulling out all the stops to launch her new political party before the end of the year to provide a springboard for her to challenge either President Robert Mugabe or Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the crucial 2018 elections.

Owen Gagare/Elias Mambo

This comes as speculation gathers momentum within the corridors of power Mugabe might leave before his current five-year term expires to allow Mnangagwa to finish his tenure, while he prepares to be the Zanu PF candidate during the crucial 2018 elections.

The other major candidate would be MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai unless he and Mujuru, as well as leaders of other opposition parties, form a coalition — the best and biggest hope for change — to challenge the infirm Mugabe or the untested Mnangagwa.

This comes as information gathered this week shows Mujuru and her close allies such as ousted former Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, ex-secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (former politburo member and Mwenezi East MP), David Butau (former Mbire MP) and ex-war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda are putting
up structures at national, provincial and other lower levels before the launch of the party.

Mujuru’s taskforce comprising Gumbo, Mutasa, Butau, Bhasikiti and Sibanda has been going around the country setting up structures, mobilising support and laying the ground for their party’s launch. Mujuru is working closely with this team, although she also has a group of technocrats who wrote Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage
for Development (Build) released this week.

Zanu PF and its media hacks reacted to Build with panic and a degree of hysteria, unsure of what to say as Mujuru sought to occupy the middle ground of local politics by embracing an inclusive and structured land reform process, refined indigenisation,commitment to human and property rights and the rule of law, among other progressive issues.

The MDC-T and other parties also have similar values but Mujuru brings something new on the table which opposition parties in general have been lacking: liberation struggle credentials and ability to relate to forces within and outside Zanu PF with ease.

That approach helped to end one-party states and long rule by former liberation movements in Zambia, Malawi and Kenya.

Opposition parties in Zimbabwe seem to have been given a God-send — Mujuru — by Mugabe who expelled her from Zanu PF in April following an acrimonious succession battle and a controversial congress in December last year. Zimbabwe could follow the Zambian, Malawian and Kenyan paths of securing change from entrenched authoritarian regimes on that approach.

The Zimbabwe Independent understands Mujuru has assembled a team of economists and technocrats to assist her come up with sound policies. It is said former finance minister Simba Makoni is helping out and could join her party.

1-joyce-mujuru-4[1]

Mujuru, officials said, was also reaching out to her late husband retired army commander Solomon Mujuru, who died in a mysterious fire at his farmhouse in 2011, friend ex-Zanu PF politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa.

She is also reportedly engaging Tsvangirai, who is former prime minister, for what could turn out to be a game-changing coalition, especially if Mugabe would not be a candidate.

Mutasa and Gumbo have reportedly told senior officials they do not want positions in the People First project, citing old age, but would work hard to help Mujuru out.

Ahead of the launch of the party, set for the capital Harare, Mujuru has been crisscrossing the region to establish and reestablish contacts with former liberation movements and build a network of allies to secure regional support.
In April this year she is said to have travelled to Mozambique where she met current and retired Frelimo leaders.
She has also been to Tanzania to meet Chama Cha Mapinduzi leaders.

This week she travelled to South Africa with close associates to meet senior African National Congress officials as well as former Mozambique and South Africa first lady, Graca Machel, according to sources close to her. Mujuru is also planning to travel to other countries in the region to canvass for support and to explain why she is forming a
new party to challenge Mugabe and Zanu PF. Officials said she was further planning to travel to Namibia, Angola, Botswana and Zambia, among other countries.

A Mujuru ally said some senior ANC officials in South Africa are keen to help her as they are peeved by Zanu PF’s support of Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters.

Gumbo confirmed Mujuru’s diplomatic offensive in an interview on Friday, saying the former vice-president has been “well received so far”.

“Following the purges soon after their socalled congress in Zanu PF, some former liberation movements lost faith in Zanu PF and its leadership. They only respect Mugabe for different reasons, nothing more,” Gumbo said.

“Our liberation sister movements do not understand how Mugabe could hound out his deputy and half the party on the basis of false allegations and lies. But the good thing is in the region we also have friends who appreciate what we are doing, and we have been consulting them.”

Gumbo said the People First project would be viable because it has support.

“We have travelled all over the country and the people on the ground are ready to embrace change that is coming,” he said.

Gumbo also said People First was also establishing diaspora structures in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and South Africa.

“Zimbabweans are all over and we are reaching out to them. They should be given their chance to vote, that is the reason we are forming structures in the diaspora,” he said.

Officials say Mujuru would rely on her allies who were suspended or expelled from Zanu PF to form her party and mobilise for support.

In her Mashonaland Central home province, Mujuru is working with the likes of Butau, former Zanu PF provincial chairperson Luke Mushore, Sydney Chidamba and Dougmore Chimukoko. She has other heavyweight allies like former Zanu PF politburo member Nicholas Goche and some who are still hibernating in the ruling party.

In Mashonaland West, she has the support of officials such as Sylvester Nguni, Themba Mliswa, Kindness Paradza, Joshua Chakona, Jackson Chizanga, Dominic Muza, Mernard Waneke, Talent Muduuri, Adrian Musiwa and Steven Karenga, among others.

Among those being counted as allies in Mashonaland East are Olivia Muchena, Felix Mhona, Simbaneuta Mudarikwa and Tendai Makunde, as well as Ray Kaukonde.

She also has strong support in Masvingo with officials like Bhasikiti, Dzikamai Mavhaire, Killian Gwanetsa, Claudius Makova, Chiratidzo Mabuwa and Trynos Huruva, among others.

In the Midlands she has Gumbo, Flora Bhuka and Jason Machaya, to name a few.

In Manicaland she boasts of Mutasa,John Mvundura, Munacho Mutezo, Basil Nyabadza, Elliot Kasu and James Kaunye,
among others.

Prominent in Harare are Tendai Savanhu, Jim Kunaka, Miriam Chikukwa, Christopher Chigumba, Munyaradzi Banda, Boniface Karoro and Noah Mangondo.

In Bulawayo she enjoys the support of officials like Charles Chiponda, Nicholas Mhlanga, Canaan Ncube, Bertha Moyo,
Callistus Ndlovu, Christopher Dube, ElifasiMashabe, Bheki Dube, Calvin Musuta, Noma Mokoena, Methuseli Ndlovu and
Quite Moyo, among others.

Matabeleland South has former officials like Jabulani Phetshu Sibanda, Alma Mukwebo, Ndabayabo Ndlovu, Tafirenyika
Seremani, Moffat Sithole, Ollen Ncube, Morris Mhambi, Lungisani Nleya, Malaki Nkomo, Alice Dube and Clara Langa.

Besides, Mujuru has support in the country’s civil service — including in Mugabe’s office where her key allies hold sway — and security structures.

Zimbabwe – MDC-T rebels suspend Tsvangirai

The Zimbabwean

MDC rebels “suspend” Tsvangirai, top members

MDC pro-reform rebels met today and announced the “immediate suspension” of party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and several other senior party members.

by Tawanda Majoni
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Tendai Biti, the MDC Secretary General, attended the Harare meeting that was chaired by Samuel Sipepa Nkomo.

Elton Mangoma, whom the Tsvangirai faction recently fired for calling on Tsvangirai to step down, youth leader Solomon Madzore and provincials party representatives were also present

Jacob Mafume, the spokesperson of the rebels, told The Zimbabwean that Tsvangirai, his deputy Thokozani Khupe, Abednico Bhebhe, Morgan Komichi (Deputy Chair), Douglas Mwonzora (Secretary for Information) and Nelson Chamisa (Organising Secretary) had been suspended by a “full quorum of the National Executive Council”.

“They were found guilty of political violence, undermining the values of the party and unconstitutional decisions,” said Mafume.

He said those that constituted the meeting voted by secret ballot, adding that all suspensions or expulsions of party members that had been made by the Tsvangirai group are null and void and must therefore be reversed.

The MDC leadership has been involved in intense turf battles from the beginning of the year.

The pro-change team that is apparently led by Biti wants Tsvangirai to go, accusing him of failing to steer the party to victory against Zanu (PF) in successive elections since 2000, in addition to undermining the MDC founding values of democracy, tolerance, peace and constitutionalism.

Recently, Tsvangirai claimed the internal differences had been resolved.

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http://www.thezimbabwean.co/news/zimbabwe/71394/mdc-rebels-suspend-tsvangirai-top.html

BBC
Zimbabwe: Opposition MDC suspends Morgan Tsvangirai

Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change says it is suspending its leader Morgan Tsvangirai for “deviating from democratic principles”.

The announcement, by MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti, follows a party meeting in the capital Harare.

From 2009-2013 Mr Tsvangirai served as prime minister in a fragile power-sharing government, with Robert Mugabe remaining Zimbabwe’s president.

That unity government ended with the elections in July 2013.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-27173541

Zimbabwe – Mugabe set to name new cabinet

After all the rumours about whether or not Mugabe offered Tsvantgirai the vioce-presidency or cabinet posts for the mDC-T, this week Mugabe will unveil his new cabinet – something expetced to give a clue to the race for succession and the fortunes of frontrunner, Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Crocodile. KS

New Zimbabwe

Mugabe set to unveil new cabinet
                                                    by                                                    Staff
                                                                            Tipped … Mnangagwa set to be key member of Mugabe’s new cabinet
RELATED STORIES

PRESIDENT  Robert Mugabe will name his new cabinet this week, exactly  a month since he and  his Zanu PF party were swept back to power in a  landslide election victory.

At  89, many analysts say the new cabinet could be Mugabe’s last as  they speculate  that he might stand down and let a younger leader from  within his party finish his  new five-year term.

Last  Friday, Mugabe announced through a government gazette that the  newly-elected  MPs would be sworn in on September 3, with the first  sitting scheduled for  September 17.

The  new cabinet presents Mugabe with a major challenge as he tries to strike a  balance between youth and experience.

Zanu  PF’s overwhelming election win has meant that Mugabe will have  no less than 40  former cabinet ministers in Parliament – all hoping to  be considered. Not only  that, younger Zanu PF officials are pressing  for the injection of youth in  government to ensure the party’s survival  beyond the current crop of leaders.

Since  2009, Zimbabwe has been under a coalition government which saw  three parties –  Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC – all contributing cabinet  ministers. But with Mugabe’s  sweeping victory, in which he polled 61  percent of the vote to his nearest  challenger’s 34 percent, he finds  himself with more room to appoint his loyalists  to the cabinet.

But  analysts say Mugabe would have to trim his cabinet from the 31  ministries in  the last government to a leaner and more efficient  edifice geared to deliver on  Zanu PF’s election promises, even in the  face of the country’s renewed isolation  by Western countries who claim  the July 31 elections were flawed.

Mugabe  is expected to retain the nucleus of his loyal inner circle  including Emmerson  Mnangagwa, Sydney Sekeramayi, Nicholas Goche, Kembo Mohadi,  Patrick Chinamasa, Obert Mpofu,  Saviour Kasukuwere and Ignatius Chombo.

Former  Information Minister Jonathan Moyo – said to have written the  Zanu PF election  manifesto – had appeared a dead cert for a cabinet  post until his defeat in  Tsholotsho North.

Joseph  Made, who was Agriculture Minister in the last government,  lost in the Zanu PF  primaries and also faces an uncertain future.

The  two will now be praying for Mugabe to include them in his  allocation of five  non-constituency MPs to qualify them for inclusion  in the new cabinet.



Mugabe  could also name a few technocrats who did not participate in  the elections as  non-constituency MPs, including the Reserve Bank  governor Gideon Gono whose  term expires in November.

Focus  will be on at least half a dozen key ministries – including  Finance, Mines, Indigenisation,  Agriculture, Transport, Health and  Water – which will drive the government programme.

Finance  in particular, is seen as the most critical appointment with  indications that  Zanu PF plans to introduce a mineral-backed local  currency to work alongside the  current multi-currency regime. Mugabe is  said to be considering several names  for the ministry, including July  Moyo, Mnangagwa, Mpofu, Chinamasa and Gono.

 

Zimbabweans vote in crucial election

IPS

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told an estimated crowd of 40,000 supporters at a rally in Harare’s Freedom Square on Jul. 29 that his party had not being able to verify the names on the voters’ roll. Credit: Jeffrey Moyo/IPS

HARARE, Jul 31 2013 (IPS) – “We definitely can’t miss this grand chance to cast our vote. It’s like Zimbabwe is just gaining independence; the excitement to see a new government coming into power is just incredible and we hope we get a new Zimbabwe rolling again,” 38-year-old Mildred Saungweme from Harare’s Hatfield suburb, told IPS.

On Wednesday, Jul. 31, the country is set to choose a president. It will be the third time that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T), has challenged President Robert Mugabe for power. Mugabe, leader of the Zimbabwe Africa National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu–PF), has been in office for 33 years.

However, ahead of Wednesday’s vote, election observers from the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had doubts whether the poll would be credible.

“I’m worried [that the] voters’ current excitement may be hampered by certain forces determined to steal this election,” an AU observer speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS.

“The risk of escalating violence and other human rights abuses after the election results are announced remains high because the infrastructure of violence remains intact.” — Human Rights Watch director for Southern Africa, Tiseke Kasambala
Hours before polling stations across this southern African nation opened at 5am, voters were still struggling to find out where they could verify their names on the electoral roll.

Those who knew where they would vote, like 73-year-old Tambudzai Gavi from Harare’s Mabvuku suburb, said they were willing to wait overnight in queues in order to cast their ballots.

“We have had one party, Zanu–PF, which has failed to deliver its promises for 33 years. I will sleep in the queue to make sure nobody will have an excuse to deny me the chance to cast my vote,” Gavi told IPS. Results are expected no later than Aug. 5.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has been criticised by political parties and civil society organisations for failing to make the electoral roll available before the polls. There are an estimated 6.4 million registered voters, but concerns have been raised about the number of dead still on the roll.

According to the Electoral Act, the ZEC is required to provide all contesting political parties and observers who request it either a printed or electronic copy of the electoral roll.

“We wonder how names on the voters’ roll are going to be verified if the electronic voters roll has still not been made public,” Tawanda Chimhini, director of Elections Resource Centre, an independent elections organisation in Zimbabwe, told IPS.

Tsvangirai told an estimated crowd of 40,000 supporters at a rally in Harare’s Freedom Square on Jul. 29 that his party had not being able to verify the names on the voters’ roll. “About a day before the elections, ZEC has not presented us with the electronic voters’ roll, something which renders questionable its credibility to run this election,” Tsvangirai said.

International rights group Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) Africa director, Daniel Bekele, told IPS that as legal and institutional reforms, including those to reform the security sector and the ZEC, had not been implemented, it did not create a space for free and fair elections.

“In spite of the difficult human rights environment, the elections are going ahead as a critical test both for Zimbabwe and the regional observers, SADC and AU in particular, to demonstrate genuine commitment to reflect the will of Zimbabwean people,” Bekele said.

“If the elections are rigged, Zimbabwe risks plunging into a complicated political crisis and the risk of violence and other human rights abuses is high,” added Bekele.

Already, ahead of the election there have been reports of violence, abductions and intimidation. IPS reported claims that local traditional leaders were cautioning villagers against voting for the MDC-T to avoid post-election violence by Zanu-PF. There were also reports of suspected Zanu-PF officials seizing voters’ identity cards.

On Jul. 30 reports by local media stated that riot police had been deployed to potential trouble areas in central Zimbabwe.

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HRW’s director for Southern Africa, Tiseke Kasambala, told IPS that it would be difficult for voters to cast their ballots freely in light of these abuses.

“Zimbabwe’s unity government, consisting of the former ruling Zanu-PF and the two MDC factions, has failed to implement legal and institutional reforms to address various political, institutional and human rights issues ahead of elections,” Kasambala said.

She said that although the new Zimbabwean constitution, which was signed into law in May, had implemented some reforms; these were insufficient to level the political playing field as there has been no repeal or amendment of repressive legislation.

The country still needs to amend repressive laws like the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which stipulates that journalists should register annually with the Zimbabwe Media and Information Commission, and the Public Order and Security Act, which criminalises the reporting of falsehoods and leaves journalists open to litigation.

“The risk of escalating violence and other human rights abuses after the election results are announced remains high because the infrastructure of violence remains intact, and there has been no accountability for previous human rights abuses, including the 2008 political violence,” added Kasambala.

In 2008, following the disputed election that saw Mugabe hold on to power, violence erupted across the country. In a 2011 report titled Perpetual Fear: Impunity and Cycles of Violence in Zimbabwe, HRW stated that Zanu-PF had been responsible for abuses that led to the deaths of 200 people, and the beating and torture of 5,000 more.

Despite this, MDC-T supporters were excited ahead of the vote.

“We know Tsvangirai is going to win this election and form a new democratic government to relegate President Robert Mugabe to the dustbin of history,” 31-year-old Patricia Hove, a staunch MDC-T supporter, told IPS.

However, most Zanu-PF hardliners claim that a MDC-T victory means the country runs the risk of falling into an era of neo-colonialism.

“If MDC-T wins this election, we run the risk of falling into the hands of an indirect leadership of Britain again because this party is a puppet of Britain and America, countries which feed it money to garner support from ordinary Zimbabweans,” Goodson Nguni, a well know Zanu-PF leader, told IPS.

Meanwhile, 36-year-old unemployed civil engineer Nigel Samuriwo was looking forward to casting his vote. Samuriwo graduated 13 years ago, but he has not been able to find a job since.

“I’m so excited about this election. I’m so optimistic it will bring change in my life and a job I have never had under Mugabe’s government, which sparked the closure of several companies,” Samuriwo told IPS.
http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/07/zimbabwe-votes-in-critical-test-of-freedom/

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