Patrice Riemens on Thu, 17 Apr 2008 21:51:22 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Meanwhile in Zimbabwe (2) (serious news this time)

I was looking for the latest Zim news, but was shocked by the
superficiality of the 'International media'. So I checked out the FinGaz
again, and found the best written article up to now. The situation is
really dire, and but for the fact that the server is abroad, I wouldn't
bet for a much longer lease of life of Harare's 'pink paper'...

>From the Financial Gazette (Harare), latest edition


Mugabe clings to power as life of Cabinet is extended
by Njabulo Ncube and Rangarirai Mberi, Staff Reporters

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has deepened the crisis over the March 29
elections by controversially extending the life of his Cabinet, which was
dissolved ahead of the polls as he clung to power amid revelations of an
elaborate plan by his ruling ZANU-PF to regain control.

ZANU-PF also succeeded this week in forcing the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) to recount votes in seven parliamentary constituencies,
while a High Court judge postponed to Monday a ruling on whether ZEC
should be compelled to release presidential election results.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa confirmed yesterday that President
Mugabe had reappointed his Cabinet.

?It is constitutional that the incumbent President and his Cabinet remains
in place until a new President of the Republic of Zimbabwe is sworn in,?
said Chinamasa.

He said President Mugabe?s move, immediately condemned by the opposition,
was in accordance with section 3 (e) (i) and 29 (I) of the Constitution.

But the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) yesterday said the move was
evidence President Mugabe wanted to remain in power ?forever?.

MDC-Tsvangirai secretary general Tendai Biti said: ?With Constitutional
amendment number 18, which synchronized the presidential term with the
life of the last parliament, it means he is only a caretaker President
right now, with no mandate to make substantive decisions.?

He argued that Cabinet ministers had been members of Parliament, which
expired on March 28. At law, only Members of Parliament can serve in

Still, Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu insisted President Mugabe
had moved to ?fill a vacuum.?

These developments are seen further delaying the release of presidential
results, giving ZANU-PF time to put in motion its survival plan, which
includes disrupting the activities of ZEC and deploying its campaign
machinery into the countryside.

Over the past week, ZANU-PF has paralysed ZEC, and led a propaganda war
designed to justify the deployment of security agents and war veterans to
close off resettled areas from the opposition, pending a declaration of a
presidential runoff.

After losing its parliamentary majority for the first time since 1980 on
March 29, ZANU-PF has worked to delay the announcement of results of the
presidential election, while it worked out a plan to reclaim ground lost
to the MDC.

The ZANU-PF strategy involves disrupting the work of ZEC, demanding
recounts, and ratcheting up temperatures in the rural areas, while setting
up special task forces to lead campaigning in a new round of elections.

ZEC?s national command centre, where results of elections were collated
and announced, was shut down this week. Equipment was dismantled and left
at the entrance. Police denied journalists access to the centre.

Election agents of political parties and ZEC staff were asked to leave the
command centre, housed at the Harare International Conference Centre
(HICC). Political parties have now been barred from the facility.

At least seven ZEC officials, accused of rigging the elections against
President Mugabe have been arrested.

There has been no comment from ZEC on any of these developments. Repeated
attempts to reach ZEC officials were unsuccessful yesterday.

There had been discussion within ZANU-PF over the prospects of a rerun ?
as opposed to a runoff ? if ZEC could be pushed hard enough to concede to
the ?widespread irregularities? claimed by Didymus Mutasa, the party
secretary for administration.

The disruption of ZEC operations forms part of a broader ZANU-PF comeback
strategy after last week?s major setbacks.

On Tuesday, President Mugabe held meetings with his top lieutenants at
ZANU-PF headquarters, which were follow-ups on last Friday?s eight-hour
meeting of the politburo.

After last Friday?s meeting, ZANU-PF political commissar, Elliot Manyika,
met the top executive of the war veterans? association, hours after they
had marched in Harare and threatened fresh land invasions.

Since the elections, at least 60 white farmers have been evicted from
farms, according to the Commercial Farmers Union.

Chinamasa yesterday said the displaced white farmers were guilty of trying
to stir up trouble and working to undo government land reforms.

?They should not stoke fires, they should not play with the tail of the
lion,? he said.

?Any suggestion to reverse the land reforms is a non-starter. We will not
take it lying down. The intention is to bring about a chaotic situation
and we will not allow it,? he added.

At this week?s meeting, a source said, ZANU-PF discussed a plan to rope in
serving and retired senior military personnel to lead a new election
campaign once ZEC declares a runoff, as widely expected.

The Financial Gazette is in possession of a document, leaked from ZANU-PF,
purportedly listing at least 200 names of senior army and intelligence
officers that would head President Mugabe?s re-run campaign in each of the
country?s 10 provinces.

The officials would lead campaigns in rural areas on the pretext of
defending resettled farmland from displaced white farmers, whom ZANU-PF
says are readying themselves to return to the farms once an MDC government
takes power.

The Financial Gazette has also obtained a dossier containing names of
thousands of teachers barred by ZEC from working as election officers. The
teachers were barred for alleged links to the opposition.

Addressed to police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, and dated
February 28 2008, the report?s preamble says the teachers it names had
been ?vetted and found to be unsuitable to participate as election
officers in 2008 harmonised elections because of their anti-government
stance and active involvement in politics.?

The vetting was undertaken countrywide. Reasons listed for barring the
teachers range from being ?MDC supporter? to ?found listening to Studio7?,
a Zimbabwe-focused Voice of America channel broadcasting into the country
on medium and short wave.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told reporters on Saturday he was reluctant
to enter into a second round with President Mugabe, saying doing so would
be to ?accept a subversion of the people?s victory?. He said ZANU-PF was
keen on a runoff so it could wage ?a war on the people, such as we saw in
2000 and 2002?.

The MDC has turned to the courts in attempts to compel ZEC to release the
results of the presidential race. High Court judge Tendai Uchena will rule
on the matter on Monday.
Yesterday, Chinamasa told reporters ZANU-PF was preparing itself for a

?All the players in the presidential race, ZANU-PF, MDC-Tsvangirai,
MDC-Mutambara, Simba Makoni, Langton Towungana, the police and ZESN
(Zimbabwe Electorion Support Network) know that nobody was able to acquire
more than 50 percent of the vote. Even when the corrections are made, the
results will not change,? he said.

ZEC has ordered recounts in Mutare West, Bikita West, Chimanimani West,
Zhombe and Gutu South. ZANU PF is contesting results in 21 constituencies.

ZEC has however rejected ZANU PF?s recount requests in seven
constituencies on the grounds that these were not made within the
stipulated 48 hours.

?On these, we will proceed by way of (court) petitions. We are yet to
receive consideration from ZEC on the other seven,? said Chinamasa.

ZANU-PF will lodge petitions for Bulilima East, Buhera South, Chegutu
West, Chinhoyi, Bulawayo East, Hurungwe East and Gutu Central.

Chinamasa attributed alleged discrepancies in the presidential results to
?human error and deliberate criminal intentions? by what he claimed to be
?corrupt? ZEC officials.

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