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Archive for the 'Elections 2008' Category

Zimbabwean politicians must learn to take responsibility

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Friday, May 31st, 2013 by Fungayi Mukosera

Groupon Inc former CEO was fired on 1 March 2013 and he said, “After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you’re wondering why… you haven’t been paying attention, from controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that’s hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.” This is what he wrote in a memo to the people of Groupon. What attracted me here is that he wrote in the most candid way that most of us struggle to do.

On 11 October 2010 Newsday published a story entitled ‘perpetrators apologise for political violence. In Matebeleland South, Zanu Pf member Makheyi Ncube lifted up his hands in front of the whole community and confessed his involvement in the 2008 election violence and the people were appeased by the humility he showed. Here is a man who did not choose the finger pointing solution but rather went head on with the problem in question. 2008 stands out as a very bad year in the history of Zimbabwe and I am surprised that there is no political party which has stood up to accept not even a single wrong.

Zimbabwe lost more than 300 hundred lives to political violence. Sometimes I get so angry to the extent that I feel that I have to be alone at a secluded place because some of the stories we had prior to the June 27 elections were so painful. Zimbabwean politics has in the past three decades lacked men of valour who not only think of today but uphold a quality of forecast and goal. If an honourable man apologises, he will only look stupid today but he knows the value of time and process of healing. In five years time when he starts preaching peace and campaigning again for re-election, it is easy for the people to see the sincerity in his talk because he is a man who sets a precedent of standing for the truth rather than justifying evil behaviour.

I am not a politician by profession myself but the bible that I read in John 8 vs 32 says to both me and the politicians that, ‘And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free’. If a politician knows the overwhelming evidence that his supporter killed someone (truth), what more soothing (free) would he need in his campaign camp than this?

I think a man who does not accept his own failures is just but an ignorant liar and should never be taken seriously because if he falters, the next thing is that he wants to craft a patch to make it an excuse to cover his own junk. Only noble and patient men do the honourable thing to accept their flaws. In Shona people say, ‘munhu anomira patsvina dzake’ (a man stands with his own dirt). The moment you try to justify your wrong doings, you will force other innocent people to step in and deal with your dirt.

Access to information and the right to vote

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Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 by Marko Phiri

A question was asked during an election reporting workshop concerning how journalists and civic organisations can report or walk the fine line between bringing knowledge to the people and not attract the wrath of the authorities who have criminalised voter education.

It highlighted the problem many have with the conditions that prevail as the country prepares for elections whereby while political parties are encouraging supporters to vote on one hand, and on the other institutions expected to play a role in ensuring that the same voters make informed decisions being fettered by the threat of imprisonment.

Anyone seeking to make inroads into remote rural areas for example to “educate” voters does that at their own peril, and it has to be queried how then a people known to have no access to radio, TV and newspapers are supposed to participate in processes they have no clue about.

It could well be a replay of the referendum where voters merely followed instructions from their political parties and vote for issues they have no clue about.

And because this is a high stakes poll, we can expect all voters to be denied by the usual suspects all the information they need to make informed decisions.

This buttresses the charge that rural folks are “instructed” or “persuaded” with brute force who to vote for, and we have already read about Jabulani Sibanda “frightening” villagers in Lupane, which is just the beginning of worse things to come.

Common sense would tell you that the period in the run-up to elections provides insight into the credibility of any poll, and Sibanda’s reported actions in rural Matebeleland only serve to cast more doubt into the country’s – or Zanu PF’s seeing that he is a Zanu PF functionary – commitment to creating conditions “ideal for a free and fair election.”

And because these rural constituencies have rather unflatteringly been labeled as “unsophisticated” they are seen as very malleable in the hands of political hoodlums, and it is here where an informed voter can take charge of their political circumstances and indeed political future.

Thus we hear exhortations from some quarters that the rural folks must remain docile and allow themselves to be herded to rallies but make their choices known inside the voting booth!

A famous Tony Namate cartoon back in the 1990s actually has a peasant woman mischievously winking as she puts her “X” on a candidate contesting against Zanu PF, and while such commentary did indeed help magnify the extent of what has become a post-independence millstone around our necks, Zanu PF has still been able to claim the vote, raising questions whether if at all rural folk “vote freely.”

But it’s a debate that will take forever as some have already opined that Zanu PF has never allowed defeat to stand in the way to claim victory!

It thus has become a well-worn cliché that access to information is the bedrock of all electoral processes and democracy, yet we find ourselves doing the same things over, and over but still expecting to get different results.

It is essentially because of this that some of the most vocal people you meet in the street criticizing the status quo go to the pub instead when other citizens join long queues under the blazing African sun to cast their vote!

Another issue to look out for again this year would be the spread of newspapers, which areas they reach as they seek to report about the pre-election climate.

Yet one thing that has precedence is the “outlawing” of certain titles from certain areas where reading a particular paper has in the not-so-distant past been a punishable offence with vigilantes using cudgels on fellow villagers for merely reading a newspaper of their choice.

To an outsider it sounds crazy, but this is what we can expect in the coming months, that is if it is not happening already.

Compromise or Compromised?

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Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 by Marko Phiri

An important book that takes a critical look at the state of democracy in Zimbabwe was published early this year and is an invaluable tool in assessing our political landscape as the country eyes elections later this year. Compromise or Compromised? An Assessment of Democracy in Transitional Zimbabwe published by the now defunct Institute for Democracy in Africa (Idasa) “is intended to set the benchmark for democracy to be measured against in the future” and “the hope is that citizens…can use the Democracy Index to assess and debate the state of their democracy” (p.1).

Kudakwashe Chitsike, who co-edits the book with Amy Eaglestone, writes that the “purpose of this book is to analyse the state of democracy in Zimbabwe since the signing of the Global Political Agreement” (p.2). It uses Idasa’s Democracy Index and scores each question addressed by contributors between 1-10:

1-4 / inadequate or falling short of the democratic ideal
5 / stable but insufficient
6 / stable and inadequate
7 / improving
8-10 / excellent and also close to the democratic ideal

It can only be hoped that as we approach elections, attitudes by political elites toward the electoral processes do change as scores in the Elections and Democracy Index did not inspire any confidence in these processes. For example the question “do all citizens believe that their vote is secret” scored 2 out of a possible 10! Then, “to what extent do citizens believe that the electoral system reflects the will of the people” also scored 2 out of a possible 10!

Chitsike explains that “this Index is different from previous democracy indices … as it looks at democracy in the perspective of gender… In Zimbabwe, participation in democratic processes for women is an uphill battle as the domination of women practiced at family level is carried into the public arena.” (p5).

This therefore is a welcome book especially now when the new Constitution seeks to mainstream gender and bring more female visibility to the country’s body politic. It is also a welcome addition to the body of knowledge of the country’s false steps to inclusive politics and democratic processes as it will be used a reference point for checks and balances in keeping vigilance on any false promises the political elites make to the citizens.

The book is divided into five sections, namely Participation and Democracy which scores a low 3.4 average, Elections and Democracy (2.9), Accountability and Democracy (2.2), Political Freedom and Democracy (2.9) and Human Dignity and Democracy (3).

The two editors and six contributors are drawn from diverse backgrounds that include human rights, law, development and their rich field experience offers refreshing insights into contemporary Zimbabwe’s political landscape. It will be a useful tool for anyone who seeks to steer the country from the opprobrium it has attracted in the past 15 or so years and make informed decisions that indeed seek to create a better Zimbabwe. It’s not too late.

Let not our forces combine!

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Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 by Marko Phiri

I find it strange that the two MDCs actually invest time in trashing each other when the matter at hand is obvious.

The spat has inevitably sucked in ordinary Zimbabweans who have taken to social media platforms with angry reactions on whether or not the two must play Voltron and combine their forces against Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF.

But you wonder where that anger will get us, and already, some cynics say most of the most vocal people are the same folks who have never bothered to vote! And they have unwittingly voted for Zanu PF, isn’t it said that bad governments are chosen by people who don’t vote!

In the spirit of multi-partyism, it could well be “may the best man win” as it is obvious that these political gladiators are not about to kiss and make up, and if Zanu PF triumphs, then they should start asking themselves serious questions about their relevance to the people’s long yearning for a “transition to democracy.”

But then you can’t talk sense with any politician.

“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.” George Bernard Shaw

Let the people’s voices be heard!

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Monday, May 20th, 2013 by Marko Phiri

A report by the Mass Public Opinion Institute titled “Elections and the Management of Diversity in Zimbabwe” which is part of an Africa wide project under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for African together with the UNDP is one of the latest that does not place much confidence in the country’s electoral processes.

The report, first begun in 2011, is part of the Africa Governance Report launched in 1999 when the Economic Commission for Africa launched its project on “Assessing and Monitoring the Progress towards Good Governance in Africa.”

Like many projects before it that elicited inputs from Zimbabweans as diverse as “experts” and the “common people”, the MPOI report, among other things, found that 45 percent of the respondents “thought the judiciary is hardly independent of other branches of government.”

Up to 62 percent of the respondents “either disagreed or strongly disagreed” with the statement that “the composition of government and leadership represents all segments (of society) and (its) diverse interests.”

That is damning by any standards.

It raises questions about the role of elections in people’s lives and their ability to choose their leaders.

That many Zimbabwe have given up on voting is already known not only from Afrobarometre and Freedom House but also from our daily interactions with colleagues and strangers, yet as we approach this year’s elections, these issues become pertinent as political parties campaign to persuade their supporters not only to register to vote but indeed vote.

What then is the use of exciting the masses with the mobile voter registration exercise then when the same people have lost faith in the electoral processes?

One telling response came from a respondent in Bulawayo who said “Zanu PF does not consider the views of the people, not even those of its own party (supporters).”

Such attitudes from political parties mean many potential voters will need a lot of convincing that Zimbabwe is a representative democracy where the “people’s voice” matters.

The logic is simple really: why listen to a politician asking for your views when his mind is already made up that once you vote him into office, you will see him again at your doorstep after five years.

The interaction of politicians and voters surely has to be much, much improved from the criticism that emerged for example with the March referendum where critics say party supporters were merely instructed to vote “YES” without even knowing what they were voting for.

Besides that, a report like that of the MPOI only adds to a heap of work about Zimbabwe that has failed to nudge the country towards good governance.

Free for all

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Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 by Marko Phiri

The Herald today reported that 29 political parties, the latest being formed on Monday 13 this week, are asking to be bankrolled by government for their political activities ahead of elections.


29 political parties asking for funding from the fiscus?

And we are only hearing about some of these obscure outfits now, talk about trying to cash in on politics, as if we are not seeing it already from individuals sitting in the Inclusive Government who are resisting primaries!

Ok then let’s take a look at the numbers.

It’s been reported that under the Political Parties Finance Act, the country’s three main political parties, were expected to share USD5 million according to their parliamentary representation.

But according to a ZBC report last month, the parties had received only USD500,000 with Patrick Chinamasa saying they (Zanu PF?) are “putting pressure on Finance Minister Tendai Biti to release the outstanding US$4,5 million.”

Now, seeing that Biti is already failing (or reluctant, depending on your political leanings) to “give” Zanu PF and the two MDCs the remaining USD4,5 million, where the hell is the money for the 29 political parties expected to come from, considering that 29 more can easily emerge from the woodwork in the weeks ahead of these elections?

Perhaps like every vulture that has emerged in our very amoral political landscape, these folks are expecting the largess to come from the diamond manna … why, more diamonds have been discovered in Bikita!

The Herald reported last December that Zanu PF had budgeted USD600,000 for the referendum for its awareness campaigns, lord knows where they got the money from, but the point is, funding any political activity is not for the faint hearted, that is why Zanu PF gets hot under the collar when the MDCs run around across the country using resources whose source Zanu PF desperately wants revealed.

You then have to ask exactly how much are these 29 political parties asking for?

Perhaps they should quietly return to the dustbins from where they crawled, but then it has been whispered that some political parties that always emerge in the run-up to elections are spoilers created by the spooks to muddy the waters for Tsvangirai not to see victory!

So then, it could be these are the same people pushing for the funding of their political outfits, after all, they always know something that we don’t about the nation’s wealth, which apparently is also being kept away from the finance minister.

“The money is there, let’s form a political party,” they whisper.