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Archive for March, 2008

Show us the figures

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Monday, March 31st, 2008 by Amanda Atwood

It’s 47 hours after polling closed in Zimbabwe’s 29 March Harmonised Election, and the phrase on everybody’s lips is: Where are the results?

Of course, the longer it takes them to announce, the more suspicious we’re all getting. But whilst it’s 47 hours of suspense, it’s also 47 hours which the MDC has had to compile its own independent tally of results. The MDC has declared victory, but where is its substantiation of this claim? Election results have been posted outside polling stations and Constituency counting centres around the country, so it’s possible to add them up for yourself, if you have the capacity to track them all down, and the patience to add them all up. This is what, it would seem, the Independent Results Centre has been doing. But scratch the surface of their website, and there is a national percentage tally, but no constituency level results to compare with the 39 constituencies for which results have been announced.

In Harare at least, this would be entirely possible – reveal the figures for Harare’s polling stations. One Kubatana subscriber suggested that maybe the MDC was reluctant to pre-empt the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s results, because they government has been very clear that it would view such an act as verging on coup potential.

But at the very least, the MDC should be comparing the ZEC’s announcements with what it has. Not to sound trite about what is, clearly, a massive undertaking. But the ZEC announced the first 6 results at 7 this morning – 11 hours ago. They announced another 12 at noon – 6 hours ago. Where is the MDC’s confirmation – or disputing – of these initial results? Even if their figures tally exactly with ZEC’s the MDC should announce this – doing so would lend credibility down the track if they do want to dispute other constituencies. Surely it’s not illegal to share your take on what the ZEC has announced?

Moreover, if we’re serious about freeing Zimbabwe from dictatorship, some defiance of unjust – or specious – laws is in order? But the Elections Results link on the MDC website still reads “coming soon.”

In some ways, the MDC could use the ZEC’s delay to their advantage – and contest results in areas where they’ve tallied the votes independently. But if they don’t take advantage of this window, it will get slammed shut on their fingers. In a country where mass media is state controlled, how is the MDC letting Zimbabweans know what it makes of ZEC’s results – and what it plans on doing about it?

Guess who’s coming to power?

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Monday, March 31st, 2008 by Bev Clark

One of my favourite journalists in Zimbabwe is Jan Raath. He’s just written this great piece for The Times (UK) which is worth a look:

We are on the knife edge now. There is little doubt in the minds of a very large slice of the population that Robert Mugabe was dealt a severe blow on Saturday. They laughed in the voting queues about how they were going to skewer the rooster (Mr Mugabe) and roast him. They cast their votes and went home to await the result. The slack Sunday morning was interrupted repeatedly by cars hooting long and loud, with young men whistling and waving wide open palms. One crowd was singing: “Saddam is gone, and now it is Bob’s turn.” Wilson, who used to work for me, called me in the afternoon from Epworth, an old squatter camp where the only light at night is from candles. He said: “People woke up this morning and they were cheering that MDC had won in our area. Then the riot police came. They said, ‘Someone from Zanu PF reported to us that people were making violence here, but you are just having a nice time and being happy’. They said, ‘Carry on being happy’ and they went away.” A text message came from Langton, his brother-in-law. “Hi Mr Raath,” he wrote. “We are celebrating for our new president.”

And yet the day wore on and there was nothing from state radio apart from endless reggae. There are also fears in the minds of many, many people that Mr Mugabe is trying to reverse The Great Unthinkable by sucking large numbers out of his thumb to secure his Historic Victory. Maybe he is being told that you can’t cheat this, you will be caught with your pants about your wrinkly ankles. At your age, your Excellency, go with a little dignity. Or maybe they are preparing edicts to be announced over the radio that, instead of the election results, they are declaring a state of emergency and in the morning we will be woken by the sound of MiG jets overheard and troop carriers in the townships enforcing a curfew. In February 1980 I drove out one afternoon to find paratroopers of the Rhodesian SAS on the street corners in full combat dress and dangerously armed. It took me a while to catch on that the Rhodesian generals intended to obliterate the nascent Zimbabwe and install a doomed new Rhodesia run by deranged white military men. Then someone spoke calmly to the generals, and the soldiers were collected and taken home. Maybe someone is talking to Mugabe. Maybe his wife can do the trick. Anyone.

Get up and get out and support the political change

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Monday, March 31st, 2008 by Bev Clark

So I’m sitting here in Harare on Monday morning wondering what it exactly was that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) intended to gain from their two weekend victory press conferences. Yes, their announcement got a lot of international news coverage, not local. And I’m sure it put Bob on the back foot. But what now? What is the MDC waiting for . . . the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s “official” results which everyone is suspicious of? It seems odd to temper a wonderfully audacious move (claiming victory) with the predictable path of comparing results.

What will the MDC do when ZEC announces Mugabe the winner? Across the country Zimbabweans agree that the MDC has trounced Zanu PF but they don’t believe (correctly) that this automatically translates into Mr Mugabe handing over the keys to State House, and his black Mercedes. So what can the MDC, showing decisive political leadership, and the Zimbabwean people activating their courage, do to seal the victory and challenge our collective disbelief that we can actually have change in Zimbabwe?

Eldred Masungurure, a Harare political analyst recently disagreed that Zimbabweans will actively resist a stolen election saying that fear is too pervasive in this country. And certainly we live in a country where Zimbabweans willingly hang Mugabe’s portrait in their shops and businesses even though there is no law requiring them to do so. And where, over this election period, Zimbabweans have had their private property Zanu-fied with posters of Bob’s fist and have been too fearful to take them down.

All of us have to ask ourselves how willing we are to get up and get out and support the political change that is happening in Zimbabwe. My fear is that the MDC leadership and the Zimbabwean people will once again, wait for each other to make the first move.

Out of it!

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Monday, March 31st, 2008 by Michael Laban

I am well satisfied.

Now, having said that, let the politician take over. I really mean I am satisfied with things so far. They are all as predicted. And I should not really be satisfied, because I lost. Not just lost, but LOST.

First point, all signs lead to a MASSIVE Zanu PF loss. Lost MPs include

Chinamasa (Minister of ‘justice’), Chombo (Minister of home affairs, the one who illegally fired us Councillors), Elliot Manyika (the Zanu PF Political Commissar, the biggest thug, the chief, ‘enforcer’, who it seems cannot enforce his own backyard), and Zanu PF lost in Zvimba, home of our beloved President. (If our beloved President’s party cannot win in his backyard!)

I went out and looked at the results for Ward 7, then went shopping. Got most of everything I need, even money from the bank! Shops were full, people looked pleased, and since the result was on everyone’s lips, perhaps that is what they were pleased about.

However, what we hear, and what will be announced may well be two separate things, but then things may start. Or, if the word is strong enough, other things may not start. Or be tried.

As for my results (Ward 7):

  • Laban (Independent) – 293
  • Pamhare (Zpf) – 1192
  • Chiwola (MDC M) – 339
  • Kapare (MDC T) – 2036

National results (the vote for President, Senator and MP) were about the same, by party and numbers, for Ward 7. Which means Ward 7 voted for an MDC Tsvangirai President, MP and Senator. And Masiya Kapare for city councillor.

Now, I have no trouble with Masiya (although of course I wanted to win). To me, shows exactly what I (and he agreed with me) predicted. That the people will vote for a party.

However, back to Masiya. He was councillor for Ward 5 back when I was your councillor. We were all MDC then. And Wards 5, 6 and 7 then made up Harare Central, so we worked together then. He is a member of CHRA – and I guess I do not have to resign as Chairman of CHRA Ward 7 branch. So the channels of communication are there.

I think we have some new stuff coming. Change has happened. What it will change to depends on us and how we will do it. We must talk and do what is right.

The streets are waiting

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Sunday, March 30th, 2008 by Bev Clark

Comrade Fatso updates us again with his perspective on the day after the vote took place in Zimbabwe . . .

Today the streets have a strange energy. People are waiting. Vakamirira maresults. Sundays are normally quiet in Harare’s city centre. Today the streets are shuffling from one foot to another like the thirty fourth person in a snaking bread queue. The streets are unsure. Hopeful. Young police recruits patrol the streets trying to stamp an authority they are no longer sure that they have. The cigarette vendor apologises for the high cost of her cigarettes. ‘Tichadzikisa maprices mangwana’. We will reduce the prices tomorrow. When change comes. The streets are waiting.

We woke today to rumours of Mugabe fleeing to Malaysia and news of the MDC press conference. We carried our bababarazi’d selves to the conference after a night of ragga at downtown Harare’s Tube Nightclub. According to the MDC’s counting process they are way ahead in the polls. Victory is on people’s lips. But so is rigging. Because the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has yet to announce its ‘official’ tally of votes. It has yet to work out how to turn our dream into a nightmare. So expectant Zimbabweans have been subjected to endless music videos and football on the state broadcaster. It’s as if the elections never happened. So the streets wait. Shuffling from one foot to another. Waiting. Hoping.

See www.comradefatso.vox.com
For Daily Election Blogs by other MAGAMBA! poets and activists see www.myspace.com/magamba

Press Conferences for Change

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Sunday, March 30th, 2008 by Bev Clark

OK its almost official but not quite – the Movement for Democratic Change has trounced the “fist of fury”. Way to go. We’ve had two victory press conferences at the Meikles Hotel which are entirely necessary, but its enough already. As Amanda rightly asked, when is the MDC going to reconnect with their supporters who are sitting in the dark, waiting and wondering about the election results? The MDC’s base of support comes from working class people who don’t have access to satellite TV and the Internet.

Morgan Tsvangirai should be doing victory laps around high density suburbs, inspiring and preparing Zimbabweans for the next round of the fight for democracy. As we all know winning elections in Zimbabwe don’t necessarily mean a transfer of “power”.

So where are the MDC trucks and vans and cars filled with campaign workers roaming the cities hooting up a storm of resistance? They were very active and visible pre-election – now where have they gone?

Enough with Press Conferences for Change; let’s have some open air celebrations.