As Zanu PF factions destroy each other, the military will have a huge say as to who would take over from President Mugabe.


As Zanu PF factions destroy each other, the military will have a huge say as to who would take over from President Mugabe.


He is a controversial prophet who continues to draw large crowds with his promise of miracles. But as his popularity soars he faces all sorts of allegations. So far he has survived.


Two secretary generals tried to topple him but failed. His wife walked out but returned home. Now MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is plotting his way to State House.


Latest news, entertainment and sports.

Monday, 16 July 2018


Postal votes that were cast in Bulawayo last week remain valid and cannot be nullified unless there is evidence of electoral malpractice that warrants their cancellation, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has said.

Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba said postal voting that was exercised by police officers at Ross Camp Police Station in Bulawayo last Thursday will stand despite claims by opposition elements such as the MDC Alliance that the process was not above board.
Justice Chigumba said this during an interactive engagement with observers last Friday.
One observer had asked if the postal vote that was conducted in Bulawayo would remain valid given the tension that surrounded the process and scenes that unfolded on social media where MDC Alliance members stormed the scene to try to disrupt the process.
“Unless we actually have evidence that somebody was intimidated or forced to exercise the postal vote against their will, the votes remain valid, ” said Justice Chigumba.

She said postal voting was optional and applicants were free to withdraw and present themselves to a polling station during the July 30 harmonised elections.

“Around the issue of validity of the postal vote. For those people who have been asked to use the postal vote it was firstly out of concern, with particular regards to ZRP they will be posted to do duties on polling day outside their polling stations, so this was the rationale. Instead of denying them their right to vote because of deployment, why can’t we utilise the postal vote. I encourage those who are not willing to exercise postal vote to simply decline and present themselves to their polling station on polling day,” said Justice Chigumba.

She said a 5 695 706 voting population had been registered as at June 1 which will be on the final voters roll following the de-duplication, adjudication process, edits and corrections done to date.
The figure, she said, excluded about 92 745 registrants who would be on the exclusion list for various reasons.

Some of the reasons for people to be excluded was those with invalid identification numbers who constituted 11 767, those sharing same ID numbers but with different details who were yet to be confirmed by the Registrar General’s Office as the true holders of such documents.
She said there were 1 157 who were excluded because they shared the same ID numbers and details but were two different people and were still to be confirmed by the RG’s office.
There were those who were confirmed not to be on the civil registry at the RG’s office and those who were deceased who totalled 8 146.

Justice Chigumba said there were 39 892 cases where there were duplicates arising from transfers and 31 248 arising from double registration. Herald


FIVE members of the same family died while two others were seriously injured when a vehicle they were travelling in burst a front tyre, overturned and rolled several times before landing on its roof in Esigodini over the weekend.

The identities of the deceased and injured are being withheld as police are yet to contact their next of kin. Three of the victims died on the spot while the other two are said to have died on admission to United Bulawayo Hospitals.

The two survivors are said to be in a critical condition. The accident occurred at about 5pm on Saturday.

Matabeleland South police spokesperson Inspector Philisani Ndebele confirmed the accident yesterday.

“I can confirm that we received sad news of an accident which occurred in Esigodini on Saturday and some lives were lost. However at this point I cannot give further details as I am not in office,” said Inspector Ndebele.

A source said the accident occurred at a place known as Benita, 500 metres from Esigodini bus stop on the Bulawayo-Beitbridge road.

The vehicle was heading for Mawabeni in Umzingwane district, about 75km from Bulawayo.
 Witnesses said the driver failed to control the vehicle following a front tyre burst.

He allegedly swayed to the left in an attempt to avoid oncoming traffic. The vehicle allegedly flew into the air before it landed on its roof and rolled several times.

“I am a vendor at Esigodini Vegetable produce market and late yesterday afternoon we heard screams from people saying there was an accident.

“We got there and found that a Toyota Regius was lying on its side. It was a bloody scene and we could not help those that were trapped inside,” said a vendor.

Another witness who spoke to The Chronicle, Ms Mandy Malaba said the injured were rushed by ambulance to the United Bulawayo Hospitals.

“When the ambulance crew arrived, we helped them to pull out the injured from the wreckage,” she said.

Meanwhile, in a separate accident, one person died on the spot while two others were seriously injured when a Toyota Hilux they were travelling in side-swiped a White Horse bus while attempting to overtake the luxury coach on a bridge in Kensington suburb along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge highway on Saturday afternoon.

The driver of the Toyota Hilux died on the spot while two of his passengers were seriously injured. They were rushed to UBH where they are admitted.

The deceased’s name could not be established last night.

Last Tuesday night, ten people died while one sustained serious injuries in a head-on collision involving a Chinhoyi-bound Nissan Caravan and a haulage truck in Mapinga along the Harare-Chirundu Highway.

Mapinga is near the Great Dyke Pass.

The accident occurred at around 10PM at the 60-kilometre peg where the ascent into the Great Dyke Pass begins.

The driver of the Nissan Caravan allegedly encroached onto the lane of the oncoming haulage truck. Chronicle


The Nelson Chamisa-led MDC could be forced to reimburse $1,8 million it received under the Political Parties Finance Act to its rival MDC-T led by Dr Thokozani Khupe after it emerged that the latter is the one that participated in the 2013 election, hence the legitimate recipient of the funds.

Under the Political Parties Finance Act, only serious political parties who would have garnered at least five percent of the total vote in the previous election are legible for funding.

MDC-T, which was led by Mr Tsvangirai, in terms of the Act, is the one entitled to the funding.

However, after the demise of the former party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, a leadership wrangle ensued between Mr Chamisa and Dr Khupe.

Ultimately, Dr Khupe registered to contest in this year’s election under MDC-T while Mr Chamisa chickened out and opted to participate as leader of the MDC Alliance.

Meanwhile, under unclear circumstances, Mr Chamisa’s MDC had received $1,8 million funding from Government despite the fact that it was no longer part of the MDC-T.

The situation was exacerbated by a recent affidavit by acting chairperson of Mr Chamisa’s MDC Mr Morgen Komichi in which he distanced his political outfit from the MDC-T.

Mr Komichi said the MDC-T and the MDC-Alliance were merely a creation of the media and that his group was called “MDC”.

To that end, MDC-T deputy chairperson Mr Obert Gutu told The Herald that his party had since instructed Professor Lovemore Madhuku to sue the MDC over the $1,8 million fraud.
“The $1,8 was disbursed to the MDC-T. This is why we say we are on a very sound legal footing.

“We are the MDC-T and the money was fraudulently disbursed to the Chamisa party. The fraud was perpetrated by a senior official who has since been disciplined over the issue.

“We have since instructed Prof Madhuku to file a claim for the money. We want the money back because we are the legitimate MDC-T according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) records,” said Mr Gutu.

In the answering affidavit by Mr Komichi, filed in a matter in which the MDC was seeking an order barring President Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF from luring traditional leaders with gifts and trinkets ahead of the election, the party denied being MDC-T.

“I am not aware of the existence of a political party called MDC-T neither am I aware of a political party called MDC Alliance.

“I will be happy to be furnished with copies of the constitutions of those political parties, albeit in a different forum.

“There is only Movement for Democratic Change whose headquarters are situated at Morgan Tsvangirai House (formerly Harvest House) at Number 44 Nelson Mandela Avenue in Harare,” he said.

Advocates Lewis Uriri, Takawira Nzombe and Onias Takaendesa represented President Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF, while being instructed by Mr Aston Musunga of Musunga & Associates in the matter.

The President and Zanu-PF have strongly opposed the application saying there was no proof that they were bribing the traditional leaders as alleged.

Justice Mary Dube heard arguments from all the parties before reserving judgment. Herald


Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Phillip Valerio Sibanda helped in the safe escape of President Emmerson Mnangagwa when he was fired as Vice President last year, Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga disclosed yesterday.

Addressing mourners at the burial of Gogo Yowana Kubvoruno, mother to General Sibanda in Gokwe’s Dera area yesterday, VP Chiwenga said he first got the information about the President’s dismissal from Government from Gen Sibanda.
VP Chiwenga said acting on his instruction, Gen Sibanda played a pivotal role in the escape of President Mnangagwa to Mozambique until he got a safe temporary shelter in that country.

“Today I want to tell you something I had never told anyone, a secret that has been between me and General Sibanda whose mother we are burying today.

“At the height of the madness that had rocked the country in November last year when senior officials in Government were being rebuked in public, a development which culminated in the dismissal of President Mnangagwa from Government and his position as Vice President of the party, I was out of the country in China on duty.

“General Sibanda then phoned to brief me on the sad developments and I asked him what we were supposed to do.

“We then had a discussion and I said to him, this man’s life is in danger he might be killed please do everything possible to make sure that he (President Mnangagwa) gets out of the country safe and alive. Gen Sibanda acted on that instruction and the President was taken out safely,” he said.

VP Chiwenga said Gen Sibanda dispatched three security details who escorted President Mnangagwa out of the country before they returned into Zimbabwe through the Mozambique border despite the fact that one of them had no passport.
“General Sibanda managed to take out President Mnangagwa safely. One of the three security details who took the President out had no passport but they managed to return home through the Mozambique border without passports.

“This man did a sterling job which I thought he would not accomplish,” said VP Chiwenga.
“After taking the President out, the army under the leadership of General Sibanda remained calm, maintaining peace while the country was at a standstill until I returned.

“I returned some few days later and we had an emergency meeting and decided to launch an operation, again when we were deliberating on the name of the operation, General Sibanda was the one who came up with the name Operation Restore Legacy, which became a huge success.”

VP Chiwenga described Gen Sibanda as a gallant hero who left some indelible marks in the country’s liberation struggle and in neighbouring countries where he operated.

He said the General’s mother was resting in peace knowing well that she bore the country a true hero.
“Gogo MaDube (Kubvoruno) played her part. She is a heroine in her own right. From her womb came out heroes like Gen Sibanda.

“Gen Sibanda operated in Mozambique and Angola and today Angola cannot talk of its history without mentioning the name of Gen Sibanda,” he said.
Speaking at the same ceremony, Gen Sibanda thanked mourners for coming in numbers to mourn with him.

“I want to thank you for coming to my mother’s burial. We know this is everyone’s way,” he said.
Born on August 18, 1920, Gogo Yowana Kubvoruno died on Friday morning at Gokwe District Hospital after a short illness. She was 98 years old. Herald


(Reuters) - A European investor's phone rings in a Harare restaurant and it's good news: an $80 million (61 million pounds) construction deal has been agreed with the Zimbabwean government. All that's needed now is a central bank guarantee letter. It never arrives.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took power when Robert Mugabe was removed in a de facto coup last November, has been trying to woo investors ahead of an election on July 30, a contest in which he is the narrow favourite.

Mnangagwa, a 75-year-old former ally of Mugabe, says he has already secured $15 billion of foreign investment, including from foreign multinationals, although these are mostly non-binding commitments, according to analysts from local financial advisory firms who reviewed the agreements.

In May, General Electric (GE.N) said it would look at healthcare, power and transport in Zimbabwe, while Coca Cola (COKE.O) said it planned to make the country an export hub for juice and other products, and a source of raw materials.

Most big companies however are waiting until after the election to make their move although already the atmosphere has changed since the fall of Mugabe, whose nearly four decades in power brought a promising economy to its knees.

Harare taxi drivers say they are hearing more foreign languages in their cabs, businessmen gather around laptops at restaurants, and the often sleepy international airport is buzzing with newcomers.

But, so far, most are leaving frustrated and empty-handed.

"It's like the Wild West," the European businessman said, paying his bill in crisp U.S. dollars to the delight of a waiter more used to the dreaded quasi-currency 'bond notes' introduced in November 2016.

After three days rushing between government ministries to get the deal done, the signed contract in his briefcase is useless since it lacks a guarantee from the central bank that he can access the dollars he needs to import equipment.

"Right, I better go deliver the bad news," he said, rising to catch a taxi to the airport.

Reuters spoke to more than 20 investors, ranging from multinationals to entrepreneurs, who are interested in entering Zimbabwe for the first time or in expanding their businesses there since Mnangagwa was sworn in.

All expressed optimism about new opportunities in sectors from mining to telecoms, and financial services to construction, after a decade when China was the only big outside investor.


"When these political changes happened, immediately there was positiveness returning to the economy," said Adriaan de Lange, managing director at Omnia (OMNJ.J), a chemicals firm operating in Zimbabwe.

"The potential exists for Zimbabwe to really turn the needle."

But investors also raised concerns about the election and infighting over facilitating investment between factions linked to Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, the army general who led the coup against Mugabe.

The biggest obstacle is the chronic cash shortages that prevent businesses from importing the goods they need or repatriating the profits they hope to make, while portfolio investors can't get their money out of the stock market.

After raging hyperinflation, Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in 2009 in favour of the U.S. dollar, but a widening trade deficit and lack of foreign investment have led to currency shortages.

For ordinary Zimbabweans this means winter nights sleeping outside banks in the hope of withdrawing the few dollars that are left, sometimes $20 in coins, often nothing.

The crunch wasn't solved by the introduction of the "bond notes" which officially trade at parity with the U.S. dollar but have already depreciated to 1.60 to the dollar.

Banking sources say the central bank has a backlog of $600 million in unpaid imports but less than $200 million cash, and the situation is getting worse.

The reserve bank declined to comment for this story.


Hundreds of firms are waiting for the central bank to release their money, banking sources said.

London-listed Fastjet (FJET.L), the low-cost Africa airline backed by easyJet's (EZJ.L) Stelios Haji-Ioannou, said it may go bust if it doesn't recoup some of the $7 million it is owed by the Zimbabwean central bank.

"It's all at risk because of cashflow," Chief Commercial Officer Sylvain Bosc told Reuters.

"The demand is there, the opportunities are there. We actually want to expand in Zimbabwe."

Mnangagwa's team acknowledges the challenges.

"For 37 years we have been living under one man. It doesn't change just like that but we are getting there," said presidential advisor Chris Mutsvangwa.

"For investors it is a question of risk and reward."

The only way to convince foreign lenders and investors to provide the funds needed to end the currency crisis is if a financing programme can be agreed with the International Monetary Fund, and that will come with painful terms.

A source at the IMF said in order to get funding Zimbabwe will need to overhaul its public sector, including a crackdown on rampant corruption and mass layoffs, which has led to demonstrations in the past.

A deal to compensate white farmers who were evicted from their land also needs to be reached, the IMF source said.

If the ruling ZANU-PF wins the election, Mnangagwa has said he will strike a deal with the IMF and introduce a new Zimbabwean currency within 3-5 years.

But the leader known as "The Crocodile" hasn't shown any signs of prudence yet, handing civil servants a 17.5 percent pay rise in May and passing a 2018 budget with a bigger deficit.


Even before the IMF will engage in talks, it will want to see a free and fair election. The opposition protested this week, saying the electoral process was being rigged, with ballot papers being printed without their participation.

Mnangagwa is slightly ahead in opinion polls, which are unreliable, but his challenger, Nelson Chamisa, 40, is gathering momentum and the vote may provide no clear winner, meaning a messy coalition may have to be formed.

Even if Mnangagwa wins, he does not have a firm grip on ZANU-PF, with his powerful deputy Chiwenga intent on imposing his authority after taking a massive risk in leading the coup to oust Mugabe, political and diplomatic sources say.

Middlemen from both camps want to be the gateway for investment and are obstructing deals that don't pass through their offices, making it difficult for businesses to know who they should work with, several investors said.

A party divided with the military on one side and Mnangagwa on the other is not a conducive environment for investment.

"Everyone wants a slice of the pie," said the owner of an energy firm who has a deal in limbo due to a dispute between factions aligned to Mnangagwa and Chiwenga.

"They must be careful. The experience 'small boys' like me are having sets the tone for how 'big boys' view the risks."

Mnangagwa and Chiwenga did not respond to requests for comment.

Whoever wins the election won't have long to take the difficult decisions needed to get Zimbabwe's economy back on track before the public optimism built on the back of Mugabe's removal disappears.

"Do you think this is what I want to do with my life?" said black market currency trader Charity Kambarami, waving a wad of bond notes in the air.

"I would also love to go to work and get paid at the end of the month but there are no jobs. The politicians have promised a lot. We have suffered enough."

Sunday, 15 July 2018


The Securities and Exchanges Commission of Zimbabwe (SECZ) has licensed a new strockbrocking firm, Morgan & Co, owned by British investors and two indigenous partners, which has pledged to influence the flow of foreign capital into Zimbabwe.

The company, whose local partners are David Muchengeti and Lungani Nyamazana, will start operations in August this year.
Economic analysts see the growing foreign investor interest in Zimbabwe as a seal of approval of the current administration’s policies.

The coming into Zimbabwe of Morgan & Co comes amid frenzied interest from foreign investors following President Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to power in November last year.

President Mnangagwa has declared since his inauguration that attracting foreign and domestic investment and rebuilding the economy would be at the epicentre of his administration’s focus.
Already, his Government has amended the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, to exclude all economic sectors except diamond and platinum, and soothe investors’ fears.
He has also pledged to protect property rights and observe rule of law.

This has already started paying dividends, as it saw the UK development finance Institution CDC extending a $100 million loan to Zimbabwe’s private sector through Standard Bank.
It was the first commercial loan by a British entity to the southern African country in over 20 years.

Further, amid growing investor interest, the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) said it had approved over $16 billion in just six months of 2017 compared to $1,2 billion for rest of 2017. With his promise for a free, fair and credible election on July 30, 2018 expectations abound more foreign investment will find its way into Zimbabwe, which targets middle income status by 2030.

Morgan & Co says its coming to Zimbabwe will help attract “dear” foreign direct investment.
“A group of highly experienced international investors has entered into partnership with Zimbabwean financiers to form Morgan & Co, a new securities firm located in Harare.

“Morgan & Co has been licensed by SECZ and admitted onto the Financial Securities Exchange (FINSEC), as the first steps in its plan to grow the Zimbabwe capital markets.
“Morgan & Co, whose motto is ‘Our World is Our Bond’, will bring access to international capital and skills, operating with local partners who share our vision, innovation and integrity,” the British stockbroking company said in a statement this week.

Morgan & Co said the consortium’s international shareholder base, its expertise, experience and access to capital underpins its plans to build an unrivalled local research capability.

“This is a key element in our planned expansion of Zimbabwe’s capital markets, particularly with market making, bond and fixed interest instrument trading and capital trading in August.”
The consortium is led by Nigel Little who headed multi-nationals such as Morgan Stanley and HSB among other investment companies.

He was managing director and head of equities for Canaccord Capital (Europe) Limited.
The Local partners who have over 10 years experience in stock broking will help capital markets to bring investment into Zimbabwe. Herald


Government says one of the four long haul planes acquired from Malaysia, the Boeing 777-200ER, has no mechanical problems and was only taken back to Kuala Lumpur for routine maintenance, which is a prerequisite even if it is not flying.
Aeroplanes have a strict regime of maintenance, unlike vehicles, and since such checks could not be done locally or on the continent — because the aircraft does not have an operating licence to be flown to Kenya or South Africa — it was resolved that it should be taken back to Malaysia using the ferry licence gotten when it was first delivered to Harare.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said that contrary to media reports that the aircraft had developed technical problems, it had been flown back for routine maintenance.

“No plane ever had challenges. What happened is that when that aircraft came, we only got a ferry licence to bring it here with the hope that we were going to get more money from (RBZ Governor Dr John) Mangudya to pay for our licence fees. He could not pay our licence fees,” said Dr Gumbo.

“When an aircraft is not flying, even if it has a new part, it has to be continuously maintained. But because we can’t fly it to South Africa or Kenya where it can be maintained, and because we can’t do it here, we then took it back where it can be maintained.

“So it is just there for maintenance because we have not obtained an operator’s licence.”
The Boeing 777-200ER, and three others, were purchased with a view to resume intercontinental flights.
The planes were expected to be operated by the Zimbabwe Aviation and Leasing Company (ZALC). In turn, ZALC would run the planes under the name Zimbabwe Airways, a new debt-free national airline, which was registered in 2009.

Government set up Zimbabwe Airways to avoid more aircrafts from being impounded by debtors as had happened in London in 2011 at Gatwick International Airport.

In 2011, Air Zimbabwe’s Boeing 767-200 inscribed “Victoria Falls”, was impounded by American General Supplies on landing at Gatwick International Airport over a $1,2 million debt for spares.

However, due to a significantly changed political environment following the coming in of the new administration led by President Mnangagwa, the threat of having planes impounded has subsided because of the re-engagement process that has already begun.

Dr Gumbo believes it is now time Air Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Airways came under one board, but operationally, the former will focus on regional routes while the latter went intercontinental.

Since Air Zimbabwe reportedly operates only two planes, Government is considering increasing its fleet so that it can optimally play the role of bringing passengers to Harare from the region so that they are flown to European, Asian and American destinations by Zimbabwe Airways.

“Zim Airways was created because of the previous situation, but now because of the new dispensation, we must normalise it. Now that we have re-engaged and we are re-engaging everybody, there is now no need for ZALC because the owner of the company we call Zim Airways is Government. To operationalise the whole thing, we have now said Air Zimbabwe and Zim Airways must operate under one board and we do away with ZALC.

“On their day to day operations, Air Zimbabwe — due to the kind of equipment it has and looks as though it operates regionally — must now concentrate on regional operations and we must then also provide more equipment for Air Zimbabwe to allow it to mop up passengers from Johannesburg, from Gaborone, from Lusaka, from Kinshasa, DRC, from Malawi, Maputo, from Windhoek, among others, as we used to do in the past.”

Zimbabwe Airways requires $137 000 to get an operational licence. There are plans to get one when the balance of about $25 million has been made. Herald


TENNIS Zimbabwe president Martin Lock has said the late Paul Chingoka will always be remembered for his tireless efforts to develop the game in the country.

The former tennis president passed on last Friday and will be buried today at Warren Hills Cemetery.
Under Chingoka’s leadership, the Zimbabwean Davis Cup team scaled great heights as they were promoted into the World Group and played against some of the best teams in the world at the time. Zimbabwe then, had built their core around the Black brothers – Wayne and Byron and doubles specialist Kevin Ullyett.

The Zimbabwe Davis Cup team competed at the same level with the United States of America and Australian teams that had the likes of Andre Agassi, Marcelo Rios, Pat Rafter, Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge.

“It’s very sad to hear. Paul was president in the heydays when we had the likes of Byron Black Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyet. Those were the glory days of Zimbabwean tennis because we competed at the highest level.

“He did very well mobilising sponsors and spearheading support as well. The results were there for everyone to see and we would want to thank him for his immense contributions.  “Even after he had completed his stint as Tennis Zimbabwe president we were still in touch with him. He came to support Davis Cup matches although he had largely taken a back seat from the administration of the game.
“We will sadly miss him. Our thoughts are with the Chingoka family at this sad hour. Allow me to pass our sincere condolences as Tennis Zimbabwe” said Lock.

During his tenure, tennis in Zimbabwe was transformed from an elitist sport and was popularised across the country. The period also saw the rise of black players such as Genius Chidzikwe, Gwinyai Tongoona and Martin Dzuwa.

Chingoka also sat in the ITF board and the Davis Cup Committee for Africa.  He was chef de mission of tennis at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and was chef de mission of the ZOC in Sydney for the 2000 Olympics. Chronicle


Mucheke Stadium today


A MAN from Makokoba in Bulawayo died last week due to alleged health complications related to his excessive alcohol consumption.

Msilisi Mlotshwa (48) of 1824 Third Street in Makokoba suburb in Bulawayo who is a well-known habitual drinker is said to have collapsed while at his home and died on admission at Mpilo Central Hospital.
He was buried at his rural home in Filabusi, Insiza District in Matabeleland South Province last week. The deceased’s niece Ms Sithulisile Mlotshwa confirmed that her uncle was a habitual drinker and that doctors said his death was a result of excessive alcohol consumption.

“My uncle was a heavy drinker and he was in the habit of drinking a wide range of whiskeys and spirits without having consumed any food and this proved to be hazardous to his health as doctors said his death was a result of a collapsed liver and lungs due to excessive alcohol indulgence,” said Ms Mlotshwa.

The family did not request a post-mortem. The deceased is survived by a 28-year-old son. Sunday News


The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s handling of the July 30 presidential, parliamentary and local government elections came under sharp scrutiny last week after the opposition MDC Alliance claimed to have discovered police officers clandestinely voting at a camp in Bulawayo.
ZEC acting chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana sparked controversy when he told the state-controlled Herald’s online edition reports of postal voting being undertaken at Ross Camp were “hogwash”.

The story was later removed from the publication’s website after police confirmed that voting was underway.

However, Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba yesterday insisted that nothing untoward happened at Ross Camp.

Chigumba (PC) told Standard senior reporter Xolisani Ncube (XN) that her commission would not investigate the allegations that police officers were forced to cast their ballots in front of their commanders because no one had lodged a complaint.

She also argued that her critics were raising “sensationalised allegations and extra-judicial requests presented as legal rights contrary to the legal framework that governs elections”.

Below are excerpts from the interview.

XN: Last Thursday there was confusion after Zec acting chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana issued a statement denying that postal voting was underway while police confirmed that officers were voting at Ross Camp in Bulawayo. What caused this confusion if Zec is solely in charge of the process?

PC: The acting chief elections officer did not deny that postal voting was underway, but denied that the commission had set up polling stations for that purpose.

The law does not envisage the setting-up of polling stations for postal voting, but that applicants exercise their right in secrecy before sealing their ballots in provided envelopes and returning same to the chief elections officer by a prescribed date.

The true version of his response is as in the Herald of July 13, 2018.

XN: Why was the postal voting process not advertised like in previous elections?

PC: There is no provision in the law that requires the commission to publish the postal voting process and the commission has placed all issues to do with the postal voting process in the public domain through disclosure of entities and statistics of those who were participating to all stakeholders.

XN: Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Senegal Trudy Stevenson tweeted last week that her embassy had not received postal ballots. What assurances can you give that Zec is abiding by the law in handling the postal votes?

PC: As far as Zec is concerned, it has despatched the postal ballots for successful applicants to the relevant ministry and it is now up to the ministry to forward the same for them to exercise their right.

It is also incumbent upon the ministry to meet the deadlines set by the law.

XN: There are videos circulating on social media showing police officers voting in front of their superiors. Is that how the voting process is supposed to be handled? Is Zec going to investigate claims by some police officers that they were forced to vote under the watch of their superiors?

PC: The videos have already been dismissed as fake by the police and this information was also given to observers by Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza during the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s briefing to local and international observers on its state of preparedness.

No official complaint has also been received from aggrieved persons to date and, therefore, there is nothing to investigate at this moment.

XN: How many ballots have you despatched through the postal voting system and what measures are in place to ensure the system is not manipulated?

PC: The commission received a total of 7 646 applications for postal voting. Out of that figure, 185 were disqualified for the reason of not being on the voters roll.

The commission is, therefore, processing a total of 7 461 successful applications broken down as follows:

Police: 4 616

Defence: 392

Electoral Officers: 2 403

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: 50

Total: 7 461

The information on the postal ballot processing is available for the public to inspect and verify, so the issue of manipulation does not arise.

XN: What is your reaction to allegations that the presidential election ballot paper has been designed to favour President Emmerson Mnangagwa?

PC: The allegations are regrettable and the commission, as already explained to stakeholders including observers, it did consider all options in coming up with the design of the ballot paper.

The proposed one column design by a concerned stakeholder would have resulted in a long ballot paper of A3 plus in size and required double the amount of paper.

It would also have been difficult for the folded ballot paper to fit in the aperture of the ballot box because of its small size.

Further, that would have meant more ballot boxes would fill up quickly leading to more being required for procurement.
The cost-benefit analysis revealed that the option would have required not only an increase in ballot paper, but also an increase in the production time plus number of ballot boxes to be procured.

The two-column design is the design that has been adopted by the commission for all ballot papers with candidates in excess of 14 people regardless of the type of election, using its discretion after weighing the available options.

The candidates’ names will still retain the alphabetical order of surnames as provided for in section 3 (11) (b) (i) of the Electoral Regulations SI21 of 2005.

However, stakeholders are reminded that issues to do with the design and printing of ballot paper remain the exclusive right of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in terms of Section 239 (g) of the constitution of Zimbabwe.

XN: Why is Zec refusing to accede to demands by the opposition to inspect the ballot paper printing process?

PC: This is not a legal requirement and Zec in attempting to build consensus invited political parties to observe the printing of the ballot on the 12th of June 2018, but which gesture was abandoned following unlawful and unreasonable demands by some stakeholders on the process.

However, interested stakeholders were provided with the sample ballot paper for them to assess the quality and for comparison on election day if they had doubts.

XN: Do you think Zimbabweans still have confidence in Zec following last week’s incidents that included a massive demonstration against the way you are handling the pre-election period?

PC: That the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission may not know, but it is convinced that it has not broken any law.
Moreover, the demonstration and complaints were from a single stakeholder to the electoral process.

XN: Independent observers have been picking serious mistakes on the voters roll since it was made public. What assurance can you give Zimbabweans that these are genuine mistakes and not deliberate attempts to rig the elections?

PC: The problem has been that the media has also failed to uphold the right to reply.

It has gone on to publish falsehoods using sensationalised headlines without seeking the view or explanation of the commission on issues raised on the voters roll.

However, the commission has already issued public notices in the print media explaining some of the misrepresentations made.

The voters roll produced by the commission is a good product owing to the technology used to weed out duplicates and to avoid doubling registration.

XN: What is Zec doing to regain public trust that it will be impartial in running the elections?

PC: The commission will continue adhering to the law and providing the electorate with the correct information through its voter education programmes and responses to issues raised.

XN: What is your reaction to reports that there are polling stations with only two voters?

PC: That is also false. The commission has since published the polling stations for the forthcoming elections.

There was confusion by stakeholders between registration/inspection centres and polling stations.

XN: What are some of the challenges you have encountered since your appointment as Zec chairperson and did you anticipate them prior to accepting the appointment?

PC: The challenges are dealing with sensationalised allegations and extra-judicial requests presented as legal rights contrary to the legal framework that governs elections.

Yes, I did anticipate them because Zimbabwe is a country under transition and some habits by stakeholders will need time for stakeholders to discard them. Standard


As political temperatures continue to rise ahead of the country’s make-or-break national elections on July 30, the under-fire national elections management body — the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) — now says it is prepared to meet opposition leader Nelson Chamisa to address some of his grievances.

However, analysts who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday feared that this welcome decision by Zec to engage the MDC Alliance principal on his list of demands for the polls could be a case of “too little, too late” — given that the keenly-anticipated plebiscite was a mere two weeks away.

All this comes as serious questions have been raised by a distrusting opposition about Zec’s ability to run free, fair and credible elections, following last week’s damaging controversy in Bulawayo relating to postal votes.

Chamisa, in particular, is also demanding access to the printing of both the presidential and general ballot papers to be used during the elections, as well as access to the finalised voters’ roll.
In a letter agreeing to a meeting with the youthful opposition leader, Zec said it was ready to both engage and deal with all the issues that had been raised by the MDC Alliance and other opposition parties, under the auspices of the multi-party liaison committee — a structure which was created to manage political conflicts after the close of the Nomination Court.

“We respectfully advise that the full Zec has agreed that your requests are best dealt with at our multi-party liaison committee in order to build consensus with the other political parties that are going to the election.

“In the absence of a legal framework to guide us on how best to accommodate your request, a consensus approach is the next best alternative,” Utoile Silaigwana — Zec’s acting chief elections officer — said in a letter that was recently delivered to Chamisa’s chief election agent Jameson Timba.

At the same time, political analysts told the Daily News On Sunday that Zec’s latest move was likely to be “of little effect” — as a raft of reforms which should have been instituted long back had effectively been put on the back burner by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s proclamation of the July 30 elections.

Chamisa, who is expected to provide the sternest test to Mnangagwa in the elections, has held multiple demonstrations against Zec in recent months — in a bid to force the national elections management body to accede to a raft of his demands ahead of the crucial polls.

Chief among these demands is the transparent printing of ballot papers, which Timba says the MDC Alliance had previously raised with Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba.

He added that when he met with Chigumba on July 2, she had indicated to him that the printing of ballots had started three days before the scheduled date of observation by political parties — because Zec was allegedly running out of time, claiming that it took at least 30 days to print the ballots.
This notwithstanding, Zec had apparently completed the printing of the ballots in 11 days — and not the 30 days that had been suggested to the MDC Alliance.

“We have been reliably informed that the main reason among others why there was no observation of ballot printing at Fidelity Printers is that there was simply no printing taking place there, because printing had been done elsewhere. It was a decoy ... a joke that has ceased to be funny,” Timba fumed.

He also said that the other opposition parties had agreed that the reforms that were being demanded by the MDC were legitimate — and even Zec had now acknowledged this fact.

For the second time in as many months, Chamisa and the MDC Alliance held a massive protest in Harare against Zec last Wednesday, to press for action on their demands for electoral reforms.
Zec was also hauled before the coals on Thursday after police held a highly-contested postal vote which the MDC Alliance and other opposition parties said was fraught with irregularities.

In the aftermath of that fiasco, angry opposition parties and rights groups also claimed that the impending national elections were now at the risk of losing their credibility altogether, unless Zec acted on all the serious flaws that contesting parties had cited.

The MDC Alliance accused both Zec and the police of undermining the “credibility” of the polls — charging that the postal vote had been held “clandestinely” and thus violated sections of the Electoral Act.

Apart from complaining about not having been notified of Thursday’s special vote, the MDC Alliance made further stunning claims that it had information that “most” of the police officers had been forced to vote in front of their bosses.

However, the police dismissed the allegations as false on Friday.
“No police officer was forced to vote in front of any officer. The voting process went on very smoothly ... the voting process is being done according to the laws of the country, period,” said senior assistant commissioner Erasmus Makodza.

During a subsequent meeting with election observers, Chigumba also said that there was nothing amiss about Thursday’s special vote, adding that it was thus valid.

“Unless we have evidence that someone was intimidated or forced into exercising the postal vote against their will, my preliminary answer would be yes, they will be valid unless there is evidence of electoral malpractice around the practice of that postal vote.
“And I would like to urge and encourage those who are not willing to practice postal vote to simply decline to do so,” Chigumba said.

Zimbabwe will hold its crunch elections on July 30 — which for the first time in two decades will not feature both ousted former president Robert Mugabe and the late MDC founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who lost his valiant battle against colon cancer at the beginning of the year.
This year’s elections have generated a lot of interest among both ordinary Zimbabweans and ambitious politicians alike, with many people anticipating a close contest between Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance.

Mnangagwa, 75, is seeking a substantive term in the July 30 harmonised elections, in which he will face the youthful Chamisa and 21 other presidential aspirants.

And for the first time in post-independent Zimbabwe there will also be female presidential candidates — four of them — taking on their male counterparts for the right to occupy the most powerful political office in the country after the plebiscite. Daily News