Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for June, 2008

Africa’s renaissance must start now

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Friday, June 27th, 2008 by Brenda Burrell

As you will expect, Bev & I have decided not to vote today. We drove around to have a look at some of the polling stations on our side of town and found them very quiet: Courtney Selous, Highlands, Borrowdale School. More police and elections staff than voters.

Busier were polling station tents in Gunhill and Chikurubi. These tents seem to be processing voters from Tomlinson Depot and the prison. Clearly zanupf own you and your family’s votes if you work for the police, prison or army. Watch the voting patterns at polling stations in these areas.

Intimidation has taken an interesting turn this election. In previous elections people were beaten and had their identity documents destroyed/seized by zanupf zealots to stop them voting. This time they are being threatened with violence if they don’t go and vote. Since the MDC’s withdrawal from the run-off, zanupf have had to reverse their tactics in an effort to legitimise these elections. How foolish would they look if no-one turned up?

A friend living in one of Harare’s high density suburbs, Tafara, returned home after work on Thursday evening to a demand from the local zanupf chairman. Everyone in the area was required to take his/her identity document to the chairman’s house – they would have it returned to them the next day (June 27, run-off election day) on their way to the nearby polling station. On collection of his id this morning he was instructed to vote for Robert Mugabe and return with the serial number of the ballot paper issued to him.

Clearly zanupf feel the need to carry their threats further than usual to coerce people to vote in this sham of an election. Against the bloody backdrop of the last 3 months Zimbabweans are taking these threats seriously in areas where zanupf is organised and has a permanent base or representative.

At a last minute rally in Kamfinsa, zanupf youth apologised for beating the people over the last few weeks and implored (advised?) the reluctant gathering to vote for ‘madala’ (old man) on June 27. A creative variation on the coersion theme!

Reports from other parts of the country are of dramatically reduced voter turnout – zanupf will have to work hard to fabricate enthusiastic support for the run-off election. You can count on them doing that. As a friend wryly commented today, it’s a case of One Man One Vote.

Yet again, Zimbabweans have not been allowed to express their will through the ballot box. So, in the short-term, it’s over to Africa’s leaders to deliver on their condemnation of this election. Action must follow their words. Of course most African leaders have skeletons and dubious elections in their pasts. Mugabe wants to make sure they don’t conveniently forget this fact. Still, Africa’s renaissance must begin sometime – and now is as good a time as any.

Abducted and murdered

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Thursday, June 26th, 2008 by Michael Laban

I received a bulk text message from Kubatana Wednesday morning to say Mrs. Chirota’s funeral was that day at 1400.

Her husband was elected to Harare City Council. The Councillors met on a Monday, on their own, because the man who claims to be the Local Government Minister will not let them be sworn in. So they went ahead and elected Mr. Chirota to be mayor of Harare. That night his house was burnt down, and wife and 4-year-old child abducted. Mrs Chirota’s body was found on Thursday.

Even if the dictatorship/regime wail long and hard that ‘they are not the ones’ who do the killings, the simple fact that the wife of the Mayor of Zimbabwe’s Capital city can be abducted and murdered, and no one has been arrested for it, shows that there is no law and order in this country. Any government’s job is to provide security for it’s citizens. Therefore, one must conclude, that they are not a government.

However, back to the funeral. I went by bike. Not terribly respectful but the constraints of the day do not allow us to do what is the best. On a cold and gloomy day Warren Hills Cemetry was full of people. Mrs. Chirota was laid to rest in front of well over a hundred mourners. The right words were said, some women sang a medley of songs, and all the right stuff done. That was good. However, it does not detract from the fact that the whole event was BAD. It should not have been happening. The event that led up to it was criminal.

I heard a rumour that Mrs. Chirota comes from a Zanu family. And the family tried to keep the whole thing low key, friends only. So it would seem that the wrong person was killed? It was also rather incongruous (to me) that some of the women in the choir had R G Mugabe head scarves on. Again, seems like the wrong person was killed. Is the killing that indiscriminate? Or is it that I do not have the ‘correct’ story?

I ended up having some discussions with my elected Councillor. We really need to get things done, even if just to remember her well. Give the people a choice. Do they want to go with the killers, or go with the people trying to get the rubbish taken away? While the cost of taking the rubbish out is high
(potential death), we must work along these lines. Elections are only one way to get ‘authority’. They certainly will not work if there is only one person to vote for. The other way (major way) of establishing your authority as a leader, is by leading. So even if you are the lead rubbish removal authority, you are the leader. The one who does not get the rubbish out is a failed leader.

What is to be done?

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Thursday, June 26th, 2008 by Bev Reeler

We awoke to the news that Tonderai’s wife had been abducted . . .

Plaxedes and her two young children were trying to move to a safer place at night
They had a driver and the next door neighbour to help
Plaxedes and her two children were thrown out of the car on to the side of the road,
the neighbour was shot in the face and chest
the driver, car and all their possessions were taken

the neighbour is presumed dead
the drivers where-abouts are still unknown
and the lives of one innocent young woman and her children are changed forever
deprived of their father/husband/friend/protector
their home and possessions
their belief that the world is a safe place

Micheal, the chef from the cafe heard his wife and mother had been beaten
he took the bus to his rural home to find how they were
and was arrested on arrival
taken to the militia base where he was told that in order to avoid further beatings of his family
he had to play his part . . .
the graveyard shift at the rural bus stop from 10pm to 6 am
watching who was arriving in the area
and reporting them to the base.

Rural and urban Zimbabweans are being forced to all-night pungwes
are being beaten unless they wear the Zanu t-shirts and head scarves

and tomorrow we are instructed to go and vote
for the monster who created this energy

or else . . .

Finally the African leaders begin to show their shock
finally they distance themselves from this violence
the global reaction is one of outrage

what has been present for 8 years suddenly visible

wringing of hands
‘what is to be done? what is to be done?”

what is to be done?
‘how’, as Morgan asks, ‘do we get rid of a dictator democratically?’

and in the mean time
as the world wrings its hands – waiting for a solution
we have run out of them here
Praxades, and her children, and Michael, and his wife and mother,
and hundreds of thousands of the people of this land
stand in the face of uncontrolled evil

the ultimate cost
being peaceful comes with the price of death

Keep positive

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Thursday, June 26th, 2008 by Bev Clark

As usual fearful rumours are circulating fast and furiously in Zimbabwe. And new media is aiding and abetting their viral spread.

I had a “cold one” yesterday evening with a friend of mine, and over our chill out at the end of the day drink, she showed me a text message that she’d just received. The message warned that an informal curfew was in place and that people should be in their homes by 9pm. It was attributed to some fictitious civil society organisation. The whole thing had the regime’s fingerprints all over it. But instead of sending it smartly into text message wasteland, people have been forwarding it to one another and spooking themselves shitless. One has to ask WHY? Why let unverified, random information curb your movement and frighten you?

And then there’s an email that’s doing the rounds which suggests that if you voted in the 29th March election then you have to vote in this one. Otherwise the regime will interpret your absence as MDC support and they’ll come and track you down and chop your head off. That’s an awful lot of paperwork and chopping that they are going to have to do to follow through on this ridiculous suggestion. Again its regime propaganda put out there to intimidate us.

Of course it’s difficult to stay optimistic, hopeful and confident amidst the violence and the harassment that so many of us are experiencing, but at the very least we have to court our courage, rather than let the regime fill us with fear.

And in the meantime, at Kubatana we’ve received frustrated emails from various subscribers criticising the MDC’s late withdrawal from the election. Here is what Shepherd and Regis had to say:

Lest there is some confusion as to where I stand, I do not support the leadership of Robert Mugabe and I condemn the violent campaign he has been waging. But Morgan has showed his lack of leadership skills in the past few days and has left me wondering what his true motives for opposing Mugabe are. He spends months globe trotting only to come back  when  there  is  barely  enough  time  to  campaign. Zanu PF was  already  on  a  violent  campaign  trail  then. Why  didn’t  Tsvangirai  pull  out  of  the  presidential  run off  then? He has chosen to pull out at the last moment and will hand Mugabe the legitimacy he so craves. Zanu PF supporters will vote tomorrow and a handful of MDC supporters will also vote. Guess what that means? And whats this drama of rushing to ‘hide’ in the Dutch Embassy? What happened to him when he eventually came out? Nothing. Whats this nonsense of calling a press conference where only the foreign media was invited to announce his withdrawal before officially informing ZEC and before informing the electorate? Whose struggle is it anyway?


Yes, I agree that boycotting is the best but would it not be absolutely wonderful if we had more time then we all mobilise the voters to all go and vote tomorrow but spoil our votes. Just imagine more spoiled votes than those who vote for Mugabe. It would show massive support for Tsvangirai but at the same time show that this election is a sham. I wish the withdrawal had been much earlier is this message would have got ot the voters!!!

Mugabe’s personal playground

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Thursday, June 26th, 2008 by Bev Clark

Take cover! Mugabe’s been stripped of his honorary knighthood. Wow. I bet he’s crying into his pillow. Meanwhile Tesco confirm that they won’t stop doing business with Zimbabwe and Anglo American have decided to continue with their multi-million dollar investment in platinum mining. And Odinga, outspoken fellow that he is, while calling for the isolation of Zimbabwe, hasn’t suggested imposing any sanctions or stopping any trade, any time soon. Well, actually any time at all really.

Beleaguered Zimbabweans are not short of words of comfort. What we need is brave decisive action from international and regional individuals, organisations and governments interested in the restoration of law and order in Zimbabwe. Perhaps Odinga could withdraw Kenya’s diplomatic presence in Zimbabwe and shut their embassy here. Or perhaps Kenya Airways will refuse to fly into the eye of Zimbabwe’s dictatorship?

Until words meet action on the part of so-called concerned well wishers, Zimbabwe will remain the personal playground of Mugabe.

Politicians should behave like soccer players

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Thursday, June 26th, 2008 by Dennis Nyandoro

In a way I feel safe and much comfortable to support soccer than politics. But surprisingly soccer and politics are all games. There must be a game plan for the team to win, also there must be a game plan for the party to win.

However, supporters of either sides should feel safe and much more open to each other. It’s high time I think Zimbabwe should have that feeling for accommodating each other, just like soccer players moving from one club to another without being victimized. Playing for Dynamos this season and for Caps the next season. Supporters feeling the same freedom of choosing and discussing freely which team is doing well and worth supporting.

Politics also should have that freedom of accommodating players of different parties into the system to develop the nation. What is important at the end of the day is to have a vibrant nation. Otherwise the nation will remain a developing nation until kingdom come. A national team is composed of different players from different teams, all with different ways of attacking or solving a problem.