Thursday, June 26, 2008

Zimbabwe Elections Bulletin: ZANU-PF Gears For Victory; Massive Voter Turnout Expected; Knighthood Withdrawal a 'Blessing'; Land Has Been Core Issue

Zanu-PF gears for victory

By Sydney Kawadza

NO country in the world, including those in the African Union and Sadc, can dictate how Zimbabwe should conduct its elections, President Mugabe has said.

He said irresponsible and reckless statements by some Sadc leaders could lead to the breaking up of the regional grouping.

Addressing a rally at Chitungwiza Town Centre yesterday, President Mugabe said the Zimbabwean situation was not as bad as that which obtained in the other countries during elections.

"Some African countries have done worse things and when I go to the AU meeting next week (in Egypt), I am going to challenge some leaders to point out when we have had worse elections.

"I would like some African leaders who are making these statements to point at me and we would see if those fingers would be cleaner than mine," he said.

Cde Mugabe said while any country was free to discuss with Zimbabwe possible solutions to the country’s challenges, this has to be done with respect.

"We remain open to discussions, and proposals that come in good spirit would be listened to (but) not because these have been dictated to us from outside.

"There are countries that have had elections in worse conditions in Africa and we have never interfered."

Cde Mugabe said Zimbabwe would not be forced to violate its laws and cancel the presidential run-off by some African countries.

"For any country to say stop the elections, to tell us to violate our laws would not only be unfair, but completely lawless to us. We reject such moves, it does not matter where these are coming from but such suggestions are completely unacceptable," he said.

"We hold our elections within the precincts of our laws. Yes, advice can be given but not to be dictated to us. No one should be deluded into believing that they are so and so and what they say would be listened to."

He said while some Sadc countries could also help in solving the challenges facing the country, other leaders were saying negative things after being pressurised by the British to condemn Zimbabwe.

"We are surprised by what some Sadc leaders are saying. Some are even calling for (South African) President (Thabo) Mbeki to stop current mediation efforts while others want him to be replaced.

"These reckless statements being made by some Sadc leaders could lead to the breaking up of Sadc. When we formed the regional bloc, it was agreed that members of the bloc would quietly intervene in areas that face problems and we have done that in some countries although we had to use military intervention in the DRC.

"There are, however, some countries wanting to be better Sadc members from others and Zimbabwe would never accept it."

Sadc chairman and Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa in March admitted being pressured by Washington and London to call a summit to discuss Zimbabwe’s elections even before the results of the elections had been announced.

On Wednesday, Tanzania and Swaziland succumbed to Western pressure to call an emergency meeting of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security which resolved to call on Zimbabwe to cancel the run-off.

However, Angola, which chairs the organ, and South Africa, the mediator in the Zimbabwe issue, snubbed the summit.

Analysts said the summit ended up being a bilateral meeting between Tanzania and Swaziland and its resolution would have no effect on Sadc, let alone Zimbabwe.

President Mugabe said despite the isolated cases of politically motivated violence, Zimbabwe still remained a peaceful country.

"We are a peaceful country. Although there have been incidents of violence, the country has remained quiet and calm.

"The incidents of violence by the MDC and in some cases by Zanu-PF supporters, in retribution after having their houses burnt, does not make the situation insecure in terms of law and order.

"I have been everywhere around the country, there is peace and some statistics telling blatant lies are naturally offending. I would rather have the world leave us alone. They can impose sanctions on us, but we have the capacity to work for ourselves because we have the land, resources and the capacity to work for the country.

"There are, however, some African countries that are content with budgets that have been made by others, they have weaknesses that leave them subjecting to their donors."

Cde Mugabe called on Britain to stop meddling in Zimbabwean affairs and stop lying to the world about the bilateral dispute between it and Harare.

"The British should stop their devious, deceitful, insidious and deceptive activities on Zimbabwe. They should keep quiet about us, they should stop telling lies about our bilateral dispute which is over the land issue.

"The land issue has been the case even during the Lancaster Conference where they (British) promised to pay compensation for the land we would take from their sons.

"While we have always been prepared to talk about the issue, they have refused during the (Tony) Blair era and even now with the nonsensical (Gordon) Brown who is much more idiotic. We, however, feel pity for (George) Bush for supporting the British."

He said the British should openly admit that they were wrong on the land issue.

"They should come out and say we did wrong on the land issue. We will never go back on the land issue. Never, never, never. Win or lose, we will not go back on the land issue and that is where we differ with our colleagues in the MDC who think they would give the land back to the whites and that would be calling for war."

President Mugabe said a Zanu-PF victory would not mean the death of opposition politics in the country.

"A Zanu-PF win does not mean we would push opposition parties into oblivion. The MDC has won a considerable number of seats in Parliament, there is a role they would play in Parliament.

"We are not going to make a Kenya in Zimbabwe. Kenya is Kenya, Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe and nothing forbids us from doing what we want in our country.

"Victory by us does not mean the death of MDC or any other party that wants to participate in our electoral process," he said.

He reiterated Zanu-PF’s willingness to hold talks with both MDC factions in the interest of the nation.

"We want our brothers in the MDC to come to us to discuss our problems, but the MDC should be totally local, they should respect our sovereignty and tell us to work together as Zimbabweans."

He said some MDC-T leaders were committing treason by some of their utterances.

"It is treason to call for war in Zimbabwe. They should do away with such utterances and stop writing irresponsible documents. If they mean well, then we are open to discussion.

"We are not going to be arrogant, we would rather be magnanimous and they are free to talk to us as fellow Zimbabweans."

President Mugabe said the country was holding the presidential run-off today because there was no winner on March 29 during the first round held jointly with parliamentary and council polls.

"We held our elections in March and there was no winner. Although the MDC led in those elections, it did not get the required percentage poll of above 50 percent and in accordance to the laws of the country, the two leading candidates would go for a run-off.

"We decided as Zimbabwe to re-organise the second phase of the election, a presidential run-off. The MDC did not want the run-off. Sure, they (MDC-T) led in the March election, but our electoral laws have it that we hold the run-off."

President Mugabe called for peace during the run-off.

"There has been violence in the country after the March 29 elections and that violence from all parties must come to an end, no retribution and we must look to the future."

He said the elections were in the people’s hands, expressing hope that there would be jubilation for Zanu-PF after the election.

Massive voter turnout expected

Herald Reporters

A MASSIVE voter turnout is expected today for the presidential run-off that pits Zanu-PF’s President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition MDC-T party that has since confirmed its participation in the House of Assembly by-elections to be held today.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Zimbabwe Republic Police have both said they are prepared for the polls while President Mugabe has promulgated regulations on how the illiterate and physically incapacitated can be assisted in casting their votes today during the presidential run-off and the three House of Assembly by-elections.

The by-elections, being held in Gwanda South, Pelandaba-Mpopoma and Redcliff, were postponed after the death of MDC candidates who had been duly nominated before the March 29 harmonised elections.

In an interview yesterday, ZEC deputy chief elections officer (operations) Mr Utloile Silaigwana confirmed that ZEC had finalised preparations for the elections.

"We have distributed all the polling material and deployed all our electoral officers. The citizens of this country who are registered voters will have the opportunity to choose their President," he said.

ZEC, Mr Silaigwana said, had set up constituency command centres throughout the country while the national command centre was at the Harare International Conference Centre.

He said the commission had accredited a substantial number of local and foreign observers as well as journalists.

President Mugabe has promulgated regulations on how the illiterate and physically incapacitated can be assisted in casting their ballots during the presidential run-off and the three House of Assembly by-elections today.

Under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) (Amendment of Electoral Act) (No 3) Regulations 2008 gazetted in an Extraordinary Government Gazette on Wednesday, a presiding officer, in the presence of two polling officers and a police officer on duty, shall assist the illiterate or physically incapacitated voters to vote according to their wishes.

If the wishes of the voter as to the manner in which the vote is to be marked on the ballot paper is not sufficiently clear to enable the vote to be marked, the presiding officer may cause questions to the voter as, in his or her opinion, are necessary to clarify the voter’s wishes.

The presiding officer shall, after ascertaining from the voter his or her wishes as to the manner in which he or she intends to mark the ballot paper, permit a person accompanying the voter in the presence of the polling and police officers to assist the voter to mark the ballot paper in accordance with the voter’s wishes and place the ballot paper in the ballot box.

The police have also said adequate security measures have been put in place and voters had nothing to fear.

The force’s elections committee commander, Senior Assistant Commissioner Faustino Mazango, issued a strong warning to some MDC-T elements that the police were prepared to deal with all those who might wish to disrupt the election after it emerged that they were distributing flyers in Harare, discouraging voters from participating.

Briefing journalists on the preparations for the run-off and by-elections yesterday at the Police General Headquarters in Harare, Senior Asst Comm Mazango assured the nation that the police had deployed enough officers for the polls.

"We urge eligible voters to exercise their democratic right and vote in an orderly and peaceful manner as adequate security arrangements have been put in place for their safety," he said.

Snr Asst Comm Mazango said it was evident that MDC-T was planning to disrupt the elections after the arrest of five suspected MDC-T youth activists in Gweru yesterday who revealed the opposition party’s plans to disrupt the elections.

"The suspects confessed that an MDC-T elected official had told them that their party’s leadership had realised that they had no support and that they should disrupt the elections by burning down polling stations so that voters would have no place to cast their votes in," he said.

MDC-T, he said, was using the youths to commit crimes in its bid to disrupt and discredit the elections.

Snr Asst Comm Mazango said the youths were instructed to flee to Botswana after committing the criminal acts where they would be trained in as yet an undisclosed exercise.

"It is evident that the opposition MDC-T has plans to disrupt the elections. These counter-productive criminal activities would be met head-on and with the full force of the law.

"When arrests of those who commit such criminal acts are made, no one should cry foul as the law will only be following its course. Youths are discouraged from being used in such activities," he said.

Snr Asst Comm Mazango said Britain and America were planning to use MDC-T and civic organisations such as Women of Zimbabwe Arise, Zimbabwe Election Support Network, the Zimbabwe Lawyers NGO Forum and others to stage violent demonstrations in order to disrupt the presidential election run-off.

Police also appealed to Zimbabweans to vote peacefully and return home and wait patiently for the announcement of the results by ZEC.

"Any premature announcement of these results by anyone outside the constitutionally mandated body is a criminal offence. I need not remind you of others we have already arrested in connection with premature claims of victory," he said.

Snr Asst Comm Mazango said police were on the lookout for any attempts of fraud that marred the March 29 elections.

"The March 29 2008 elections, though conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner, were marred by widespread fraudulent activities by some ZEC officials. During the verification processes we came across undisputed evidence of manipulation of figures," he said.

He said some of the fraudulent activities included switching of figures between candidates, inflating and deflating of figures of some candidates, prejudicing some candidates, people being allowed to vote twice, allowing unregistered persons to vote, denial of registered voters to cast their vote and falsification of figures.

"All these are criminal acts and to date over 108 officials have been arrested and some have already been convicted in the courts countrywide," he said.

Snr Asst Comm Mazango said these fraudulent activities brought about a distorted result, thereby circumventing the will of the people.

"The distortion was a strategy by these who want to get into office by hook and crook, making the poll free but not fair. This time around any tampering with the voting process will result in immediate arrest and detention," he said.

Defend Zim’s sovereignty: Nkomo

Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWEANS should go in their numbers to vote today as the right to vote and the sovereignty they currently enjoy came through the liberation struggle and cannot be subverted, Zanu-PF National Chairman Cde John Nkomo has said.

In a statement televised on Wednesday night, Cde Nkomo said no one could overturn the sovereignty of the Zimbabwean people by dictating how and when they should vote.

He said events of the past few days had exposed the intimate links between the opposition and Western political establishments.

"Our statehood and our nationhood are under severe threat. The question before each and every one of us is whether, advertently or inadvertently, we will go down in the annals of history as defenders of our motherland or as traitors who unabashedly volunteered for servitude.

"They have jointly agitated for international punitive measures against Zimbabwe with a view to dislodging the progressive Government of President Mugabe. The ferocity of the anti-Zimbabwe campaign underscores what is at stake — our independence and future as a nation. Evidently this onslaught is being directed from London and Washington," he said.

Cde Nkomo said Zanu-PF has continuously reaffirmed its credentials as the people’s party since independence.

It was imperative, Cde Nkomo said, that as the electorate cast its vote it be imbued with a sense of history and destiny as June 27, 2008 was a direct result of April 18, 1980.

Cde Nkomo said it was travesty of natural justice for those who colonised Zimbabwe and denied its people basic human rights for centuries to suddenly change into champions of democracy.

"It is also disheartening to realise that fellow Zimbabweans, especially those who shunned the liberation struggle, are eager today to serve the interests of our sworn enemies.

"The domestic vote we take for granted today was earned through the blood, sweat and tears of the gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe. Zanu-PF Presidential candidate Cde Mugabe is the embodiment of our arduous struggle for the independence and liberty. He is a man of the moment and future," Cde Nkomo said.

The land reform programme, he said, which democratised property relations in the agricultural sector has brought economic empowerment to the indigenous people and made them masters of their own destiny.

"It is no coincidence that the 100 percent Empowerment and Total Independence are twin thrust of our electoral campaign. These underline our unflinching commitment to social and economic justice.

"We realise that the essence of governance also entails the total and full empowerment of our citizens. The economic challenges that we face today can only be resolved with the full participation of our citizenry," Cde Nkomo said.

He said Cde Mugabe’s revolutionary zeal and patriotism had attracted attention from those who had unfettered access to resources and have mobilised opposition both domestically and externally to scuttle the Zanu-PF empowerment agenda.

"We are all aware of the untold brutality and pain inflicted by the Rhodesian forces at home and in our liberation camps located in our neighbouring countries.

"It never crossed our minds to abandon the struggle and our people to seek sanctuary at foreign mission. It was a fight we had to fight to finish," Cde Nkomo said.

He said Cde Mugabe had stood by his word and has never shortchanged his people for the sake of filthy lucre.

Cde Nkomo scoffed at Tsvangirai’s theatrics that had seen him dash in and out of a foreign mission saying they reflected on his character.

‘Knighthood withdrawal on President a blessing’

Herald Reporter

QUEEN Elizabeth’s decision to withdraw an honorary knighthood bestowed on President Mugabe in 1994 is actually a blessing in disguise as it removes one of the last vestiges of colonial titles on an outstanding African statesman and revolutionary, analysts said yesterday.

While the rabid western media ranted and raved about the event because of their warped value system, progressive Zimbabweans saw it as signifying the further decolonisation of Africa.

A social commentator said Zimbabwe was independent and has its own value systems that protect African humanism, integrity and empowerment.

"The decolonisation process was a rejection of British value systems and so as Zimbabweans we simply see this as the removal of one of the last vestiges of colonialism. No one has ever referred to our President as ‘Sir’ Robert Mugabe. He is known as ‘Comrade’ Robert Mugabe and that says it all," he said.

The analyst said the move should be seen as further proof of the British Empire’s brazen interference in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs, as if the country is still their colony.

Observers said it was shameful that the Queen still thinks the knighthood has more meaning to Zimbabweans than the 100 percent black empowerment programme that President Mugabe has embarked on.

The Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity, Cde Bright Matonga yesterday laughed off the development, saying the continued existence of the knighthood had given the British the mistaken impression that they still held some form of sway over the country.

"My President never used that knighthood. It meant nothing to him and it means nothing to us as Zimbabweans and this is why it was never talked about here.

"Zimbabwe is not a part of the British Empire and their titles and honoraria mean nothing to us unless they promote the values and virtues of our existence in the form on protection of our land rights and our right to exploit our resources.

"My President has nothing to benefit from being considered a subject of the British Queen. It is something we rejected and that is why Britain today is trying to meddle in our affairs. The same goes for the honorary degrees that various Western institutions gave him.

"Cde Mugabe is a very educated man with seven degrees of his own that he earned through his own sweat. You will not hear him talking about his honorary degrees and in fact, they can take them away along with the knighthood," Cde Matonga said.

The withdrawal of the knighthood comes at a time when Britain, America and their allies have upped pressure to divide Sadc by clandestinely engaging individual regional leaders to isolate Zimbabwe and effect regime change.

The Americans, which fully understand that the impasse between Harare and London is strictly from the failure by London to honour Lancaster House agreements over the land reform, has joined in the fight disguised as a democracy lecturer yet it is looking for soil to establish its military base for Africom in the region.

"The whole American story is that of trying to establish military base in Africa and President Mugabe is a threat because he would certainly reject such a move. The British story is a bilateral problem emanating from the historical colonial land issue.

"This knighthood is meaningless to land hungry black Zimbabweans. It should also assume the same meaningless form in the rest of Africa because Africans do not survive on knighthood but on their resources, such as land.

"Knighthood did not bring independence to Zimbabwe and to Africa. It was the war waged by comrades that brought independence to Zimbabwe and it is the land revolution that makes sense to President Mugabe’s supporters not knighthood.

"I am sure that given a choice between knighthood on one side and his country’s independence, sovereignty and 100 percent empowerment any reasonable Zimbabwean would never go for knighthood,’’ said a social commentator.

Social leader Bishop Trevor Manhanga, the chairman of the Heads of Christian Denominations in Zimbabwe, added to this saying the knighthood had no value whatsoever to President Mugabe and to Zimbabwe.

"It is totally of no significance. Of what value is a British knighthood to a Zimbabwean? I don’t think the majority of Zimbabweans even know or care what criteria is used to bestow these things," he laughed.

Interestingly, on the same day that Queen Elizabeth’s decision was made public, the British monarch was knighting Mr Salman Rushdie, an Indian-born writer who for 10 years was wanted in his homeland for blasphemy after authoring the novel, The Satanic Verses.

In 1989, the Supreme Leader of Islam Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini passed a death sentence on Mr Rushdie for desecrating the Moslem faith and the writer has since lived in the UK under the protection of British special agents.

Land has always been core issue

By Peter Mavunga

BRITAIN had the right to intervene in Rhodesia when, on November 11, 1965, Ian Smith defied the Crown and declared UDI. But it did not because the rebel was Ian Smith, a white man, and Harold Wilson, the then British prime minister, could not bring himself to fight against his kith and kin.

These were Dr Davis Gazi’s words on Wednesday night in a speech to an all-black audience in London where he was promoting his book, "Zimbabwe: Racism and the Land Question".

His words were relevant to those in the audience, some of whom had come from outside London to hear him speak. Britain and her allies are engaged in a flurry of activity to justify such intervention in Zimbabwe.

So Dr Gazi’s grasp of history and his willingness to share it was just the antidote to the daily diet of BBC propaganda his audience needed.

Indeed, a Jamaican young woman confided in me: "I am just fed up of the BBC. I have come to hear an African perspective of the story of Zimbabwe," she said before the meeting started.

Dr Gazi pointed to "a funny irony of history" that meant that the Conservative governments, rather than Labour, had done more for Africans than Labour.

He reminded his guests that it was Harold McMillan, a Tory prime minister well remembered in Africa for his "wind of change" speech, who had suggested buying land for Africans in Kenya.

This was a Conservative, said Dr Gazi, expressing disappointment in another paradox that the Democrats in America — who were supposed to be closer to black people than the Republicans — had on the whole been the slave owners and wanted slavery to continue as opposed to the Republican factory owners who preferred "these niggers" to work in their factories as free men.

He said the only time Britain had the right to intervene in Rhodesia was during UDI.

Today, no amount of posturing will justify Britain and her allies to intervene in the affairs of an independent country. Yet morals or ethics had never deterred Western countries from interfering in the affairs of other sovereign states.

In 1960, Patrice Lumumba, who had been elected by his own people, was removed from office by America, Belgium, Britain, France and others. Here is an example of the intervention by those who murdered Lumumba whereupon they went to defeat the notion of democracy in order to further their own ends.

And after they had murdered Lumumba, said Dr Gazi, they immersed his body in sulphuric acid to dissolve it. They were not going to tolerate seeing his grave turned into a shrine lest it might foster unity among the Africans.

Since this brutal intervention in the Congo by the West, more than five million people have died in the Congo. This is what intervention by the West means in reality. It is concerned with the violation of an African country’s sovereignty; it is about occupation; it is about murder and it is brutal.

In 1971, Milton Obote went to the Commonwealth conference in Singapore where he was going to object to the British selling arms to the South African navy. In doing this, the then president of Uganda was opposing the apartheid regime in South Africa. When he returned home, his country had been taken over by Idi Amin, who was supported by the British, the Americans and the Israelis.

Dr Gazi went on to speak about farms and farming in Zimbabwe. He inveighed against the idea often put forward by those who confuse land and one-man one-vote.

"Never did I hear my mother or father say we were fighting for one-man one-vote," he said. "They said we went to fight for our land, to get our land back."

He dismissed the notion often peddled by white supremacists that white farmers were responsible for more agricultural output in Zimbabwe. He also dismissed the idea that because of white farmers, Zimbabwe had been "the breadbasket" of Africa.

Dr Gazi, a scientist by training, said there was no evidence suggesting that white expertise was responsible for more agricultural output in Zimbabwe, particularly the production of staple food. What evidence there was, pointed to black people doing this.

Reflecting on life in Rhodesia where he grew up, Dr Gazi recalled that from primary school, black children were taught carpentry, agriculture and sometimes metalwork. There was not one, not one, he repeated for emphasis, school where white people went to learn agriculture. He himself started learning agriculture when he was 10.

He dismissed the idea that whites were responsible for feeding Africans as a myth. It was Africans who had the agricultural know-how, pointing out examples of Domboshawa, Chivero, Mlezu agricultural colleges and others where Africans learnt agriculture. And there were many able black farmers, said Dr Gazi.

He blamed the Government for the poor farming output which, he said, did not implement the right pricing policy. He thought the low price for staple food like maize was the only reason, apart from seasonal factors, why agricultural output went down.

"Agriculture was destroyed by the policy of cheap prices for maize and so on which meant that it was better for the farmer to go and buy cellular phones in South Africa and come back and sell them for profit than to farm," said Dr Gazi.

On whether President Mugabe had been in power "for too long", as is often said by those advocating change, Dr Gazi said this depended on the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

He pointed that President Mugabe had been in office since 1980 while Hosni Mubarak of Egypt had become president in 1981. While there was clamour for President Mugabe to be removed from office, no one was asking Mubarak to leave office.

He went on to say that no one was saying President Mugabe was still in office because he breached the Constitution of Zimbabwe. If that was the case, this would mean he had been in office for too long. But since he was in fact complying with the Constitution, Dr Gazi urged his audience to reflect on the reason why there was pressure on President Mugabe and not on Mubarak. He challenged his audience directly and asked them why, if they were concerned about starvation in Zimbabwe, they did not send a container load of food or medicines to the poor.

Dr Gazi was asked to comment on violence reported in the media. He said he had no view on this until he had the facts.

He said he would not excuse anybody who violated Africans. That included South Africa where people were beaten up simply because they were foreigners.

His view on this was that this was meant to frighten Zimbabweans in South Africa so that they could go back to Zimbabwe and vote or influence the outcome of the election. He was driven to this conclusion because of the timing of the violence. Why did it happen just as preparations for the run-off got underway?

As regards violence in Zimbabwe, he said he did not know who was committing the violence against who. He said we had to find out and urged his audience not to be misled by those who are quick to blame the Government. He referred anecdotally to a section in his own book in which he described how the MDC once claimed that one of its members had been murdered by Zanu-PF when, on closer examination, it turned out it was a member of Zanu-PF who had been murdered by the MDC. Reality and what is reported don’t always coincide, he said.

A South African woman in the audience asked Dr Gazi whether he would comment critically on her former president, Nelson Mandela, given what she saw as a man who was being used by white society?

Dr Gazi would not be drawn to do so, saying Mandela, who was apparently speaking about "failure of leadership in Zimbabwe" as Dr Gazi was delivering his own speech, was a black man. He said there was a danger of concentrating our criticism against our own people who have got it wrong when there were many white people to criticise for doing untold damage to our own people.

He went on to say he did not join those who criticised Morgan Tsvangirai for being "so stupid" for the simple reason that he (Tsvangirai) "is my brother" who, he went on, "did have the right not to rule Zimbabwe", he said to much laughter.

People here are confounded by Tsvangirai’s judgment following his decision to seek refuge in the Dutch embassy rather than one of the African missions. One man in the audience remarked, to the amusement of the audience, that he had to run past the Nigerian embassy to reach the Dutch embassy and our Nigerian brothers are very upset about this!

The most heated exchange came when Dr Gazi was challenged by a former member of Zipra who complained that he did not get the land that he went to fight for. He complained that the Government of Zimbabwe had been discriminating against those in Matabeleland.

That is when Dr Gazi came to life. He said this was not his experience and he said this with certainty "because I was there".

He explained in minute detail his own role in trying to persuade people in Matabeleland to accept land being offered to them by the Government. He rejected the idea that land was being given by Zanu-PF.

"I know because I took 60 forms myself from the Ministry in Bulawayo, trying to persuade people to take up land but only six were taken because people were wrongly advised to reject it on the grounds that ‘ngo kwe Zanu konoko’."

Dr Gazi was applauded for holding his own ground on this and for winning over his brothers who later agreed that a discussion about the rights and wrongs made by individual personalities like Robert Mugabe at this stage was, in fact, a distraction from the real issue facing us today.

The issue is that "we want our land and we want to keep it", said Dr Gazi.

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