Sunday, March 30, 2008

Zimbabwe News Bulletin: Anxiety Grips Nation; After ZANU-PF's Anticipated Victory

Anxiety grips Zim

Sunday Mail Reporters

VOTING in the 2008 harmonised elections went on peacefully and orderly across the country yesterday with three presidential candidates casting their ballots in Harare while the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) expressed satisfaction with the polling process.

The only incident of violence was reported in Bulawayo where Zanu-PF candidate for the Emakhandeni-Entumbane House of Assembly seat, Cde Judith Mkwanda, had her house bombed early yesterday morning.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the bombing incident.

"Early this morning a house in Emakhandeni constituency was bombed. We have since retrieved explosive devices. No arrests have been made as yet and no one was injured," Asst Comm Bvudzijena said.

Last night ZEC said owing to the expansive nature of the results from the harmonised elections, including the need for thorough verification, results will be announced from today onwards.

Polling opened promptly at 7am at all polling stations across the country where people had begun queueing as early as 4am and reports say most polling stations had closed at 7pm after clearing all the voters.

In the capital, most queues had disappeared by midday and this was attributed to the increased number of polling stations and booths.

Voters started queueing as early as 2am at some polling stations in Glen Norah, Warren Park and other western suburbs.

Prospective voters whose names did not appear on the voters’ roll were turned away while others who did not have proper identification faced the same fate.

Aliens with dual citizenship were also turned away.

President Mugabe and the First Lady Cde Grace Mugabe cast their ballots at Mhofu Primary School in Highfield while MDC faction leader and presidential aspirant Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and his wife Mrs Susan Tsvangirai voted at Avondale Primary School.

Independent presidential candidate Dr Simba Makoni also cast his ballot in Harare but the event was not covered by both the local and international media as Dr Makoni’s campaign team failed to provide details on where their leader would vote.

Queues at most polling centres disappeared by 11am and voters were walking in and out of the polling station in little time.

The usually busy Mbare Musika bus terminus was deserted save for a few buses as people devoted their time to the polls.

A team of Sadc observers from Mozambique who visited some polling stations at Matapi Hostels after earlier visiting Goromonzi said that they were impressed with the peace and tranquillity they had witnessed during the polls.

In Masvingo Central, polling started at 7am with short queues at most polling stations in the morning. The turnout improved from midday until around 4pm. A few more voters cast their ballots until polling closed at 7pm.

Voting in Gutu’s five constituencies went on well with people starting to queue at around 5am. All 210 polling stations opened at 7am as scheduled and voters began voting peacefully.

No cases of violence were reported in Gutu where a total of 15 candidates were battling it out in the five constituencies.

Election officers Mr Leo Madzimure and Mr Etinos Mudzamba said the elections were smooth and peaceful.

An interesting battle is in Gutu South where Zanu-PF’s Cde Shuvai Mahofa is locking horns with MDC Tsvangirai’s Eliphas Mukonoweshuro and independent candidate Jacob Marandure.

In Bikita, people started queueing at polling stations at sunrise but most of the queues had disappeared by 11am. For the better part of the day, voters were strolling in and casting their votes without any hassles.

Voting was peaceful in the three constituencies in the district with candidates applauding the smooth voting process.

Police in the district said no reports of violence were received.

In Mwenezi East and West, the situation was calm. Voters started queueing as early as 5.30am in the two constituencies and by midday queues had disappeared.

However, at a few polling stations in Mwenezi East long queues were still evident in the afternoon.

Voting started peacefully but on a low note with the situation notably improving by mid-morning.

Quite a good number of people did not vote as they went about their daily chores. Different observer teams could be seen doing their rounds in the area and the electorate was happy with the smooth flow of the process. However, voters seemed to be concentrated along the highway and most were happy with the introduction of the ward-based voting system saying this shortened the distances they had to walk to a polling station.

In Zaka queues were observed in the morning but as the day progressed they disappeared in Zaka East, West and Central.

The voting process was peaceful in all the constituencies and no cases of violence were recorded. By 12.35pm, 79 people had cast their votes at Lundi High while 248 people had voted at Chitanga School.

There was a high voter turnout in all the three constituencies in Chiredzi, including in the sparsely populated Chikombedzi district.

Queues started forming at most polling stations as early as 6.30am. In Chiredzi West, which covers Chiredzi town, long queues had already formed at Chipanga Hall in Ward 3 while at the Salvation Army Church in Ward 4, in the same constituency, the queues grew as the day progressed.

The presiding officer at Chibwedziva Secondary School, Mr Obert Shumba, said there was also a high turnout. Some voters were turned away for various reasons that included not appearing on the voters’ roll and not having the required documents.

A number of illiterate voters in Chibwedziva had to be assisted by polling officers to vote.

In Mashonaland East in Murewa North constituency voting started at 7am with long queues at most polling stations. However, the voting process was quick and queues were moving fast, particularly in Ward 30.

Zanu-PF House of Assembly candidate in the constituency Cde David Parirenyatwa said he was satisfied with the turnout and expressed confidence that he would win.

Voters in Chikomba trooped to polling stations starting from 6am. But several prospective voters were turned away as they did not appear on the voters’ roll while some did not have the required documents.

Presiding officers at Tagwena, Liebenberg Secondary School, Chivhu Community Hall in Chikomba West and Chirume Primary School, Hokonya Primary School in Chikomba Central said voting was being conducted in a peaceful manner with no disturbances.

In Wedza voting was peaceful with a high turnout. At Wedza centre polling station more than 400 voters had cast their votes by 12.45pm.

The voting process was fast but about 80 voters were turned away for turning up at wrong polling stations.

In Marondera the electorate braved the chilly weather and long winding queues of around 100 metres were evident at various polling stations around 5am.

Seven voters slept at Godfrey Huggins Primary School polling station. Zanu-PF Wedza-Marondera Senate candidate Cde Sydney Sekeramayi cast his vote at 8am.

Longer queues were seen in most high-density suburbs. In areas like Cherutombo High in Ward 6, Nyanhewe Primary Ward 8 and other polling stations queues had been cleared by 11am.

By lunchtime, few individuals were seen trickling in to cast their votes at most polling stations. Few individuals were turned away for various reasons.

Voting in Mudzi constituency went on peacefully with no major incidents as voters turned out in their numbers at most polling stations.

The constituency election officer, Mr Alec Navhaya, said voting went peacefully at Nyamapanda Primary School as voters came in as early as 3am.

"Voting went well because voters came early to make sure there were no hitches in the process," said Mrs Alice Chinherera, senior presiding officer in Ward 1.

In Mhangura, Mashonaland West province, 9 000 voters out of the 44 000 registered voters voted while 2 000 were turned away for not appearing on the voters’ roll.

Only nine people voted at Chikuti polling station where 130 people were turned away for not appearing on the voters’ roll.

In Kariba voting started on a low note with short queues in the morning. All polling stations had cleared voters by 11am. Sadc observers said the process was peaceful and smooth.

In Centenary 200 people had cast their votes by 10am at Gatu polling station. At least 28 voters were turned away for various reasons.

In Chakari and Chegutu voting started on schedule and was peaceful.

However, voter turnout was low and at polling stations where there was improved turnouts the queues were cleared by midday.

In Karoi urban, voting started on schedule at 7am with few voters casting their ballots in the low-density areas where people were simply walking into the polling stations and voting.

Voting started peacefully in Sanyati constituency for the elections with large numbers of prospective voters thronging the polling stations. Long queues could be seen as early as 6.30am at some polling stations but these had become shorter in the afternoon. Voters interviewed were happy with the manner with which the polling was being conducted.

However, some were turned away for various reasons that included failure to produce the required documents or not being on the voters’ roll.

Sanyati constituency elections officer Mr Phineas Mutyavavire said voting was going on smoothly in the constituency and that all polling stations had opened on time.

Scores of people thronged polling stations in the Mhondoro-Mubaira constituency as early 5.30am and voting began in earnest at 7am.

The constituency had five polling stations but two of the stations — St Jones Mataruse Primary School and Rukuma Business Centre — temporarily ran out of ballot papers. At St Jones only Senate ballot papers ran out while at Rukuma Business Centre all ballot papers ran out around midday. The situation was, however, rectified about two hours later with the delivery of a new consignment.

Mr Bright Kaungwa of the MDC anti-Senate faction is contesting Cde Sylvester Nguni of Zanu-PF and Mr Christopher Monera of the MDC pro-Senate faction.

Voting in Hurungwe West and Hurungwe Central constituencies closed at 7pm and was immediately followed by the verification process.

Voters in Hurungwe West were at polling stations as early as 3am. Long queues were observed in the afternoon at Zvipani and Zvimonja primary schools.

Zanu-PF chief election agent in the constituency Cde Robert Tichareva was happy with the process, adding polling was peaceful.

Queues at most polling stations around Shamva were short and most registered voters had cast their votes by 10am.

District election officer for Shamva Mr Cuthbert Mhishi said the many polling stations ensured voters spent less time voting.

In Guruve North voters started queueing as early as 3am. At least 900 people were seen at the polling station at Gwakwe Primary School.

Members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church did not cast their votes citing religious beliefs. Among other things, the elder of the church in the area, Jabulani Chimbadzo, said voting was against their church principles.

"The truth is we are not supposed to vote because we are apolitical and believe in keeping the Sabbath Day holy. God crowns national leaders, so whoever comes to power is God’s plan," he said.

In Rushinga voting was also peaceful as people turned out in large numbers to cast their votes.

Although figures could not be immediately obtained, most people had cast their votes in the morning and by 1pm most queues had disappeared.

In Gokwe Nembudziya voting started on a high note with a large turnout at the polling stations where long queues began forming long before opening time.

Voters could be seen arriving at different centres in open trucks, lorries and even scotchcarts.

Cde Flora Buka of Zanu-PF is being challenged by Mr Josphat Mahachi of the MDC Mutambara faction.

Cde Buka said she was confident of a landslide victory based on the various developmental projects she embarked on in the province.

"We are confident of victory judging by the massive turnout at our rallies coupled with a divided opposition and the various developmental projects we have been doing in the area."

In the other Gokwe constituencies, voting started early in the morning in Gokwe Matsingautsi, Gokwe Central and Gokwe Sesane with long queues at polling stations.

At most polling stations an average of 200 voters had cast their votes by 2pm.

Presiding officer Mr Douglas Chibvongodze said there no problems had been experienced in the voting process.

In Headlands, Manicaland, polling stations opened their doors at 7am. Zanu-PF candidate Cde Didymus Mutasa was optimistic of retaining the seat.

After Zanu-PF’s anticipated March 2008 victory

AFRICAN FOCUS By Tafataona P. Mahoso

THE anticipated convincing victory of the Zimbabwe African National Union — Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) in the 2008 harmonised elections was based on two factors: a concrete programme of action based on a convincing historical record full of tangible results and achievements which the opposition’s propaganda onslaught could distort but never delete; and a coherent value system (ideology) based on the same history and clearly consistent with the programme of action.

Although the MDC was poised to come in second to Zanu-PF in the same elections, it no longer presents the main challenge to Zimbabwe’s independence and sovereignty which it represented (as a proxy for imperialism) in 2000, 2002 and 2005. The MDC’s performance, however significant in terms of numbers, represents a decline that will eventually lead to near-extinction.

This is because the MDC at its formation was premised on the presumed dominance of a labour movement collaborating with foreign companies and the Rhodesian land-owning oligarchy at the very same time that structural adjustment was decimating workers and turning them into petty traders and tuckshop operators.

To make matter worse, the African liberation movement was targeting the other base, the Rhodesian oligarchy, with demands for land reclamation and repossession. These facts combined with the MDC’s open collaboration with the UK, the US and the EU against Zimbabwe meant that the MDC did not have a long future.

In other words, the MDC based itself on three shaky foundations: the presumed, permanent and global dominance of the Anglo-Saxon world; the continued dominance of the Rhodesian landed oligarchy; and the continued growth of industrial labour.

The presumed global dominance of the Anglo-Saxon world was already in serious doubt as the MDC was being launched in 1999, because of the emergence of China, India, Russia, Brazil and others.

The presumed permanence and dominance of the Rhodesian-landed oligarchy was soon to be dislodged by peasants and war veterans. The presumed growth of labour was a miscalculation since structural adjustment had started in other countries as far back as 1980.

In other words, given the material foundations and the ideological concepts on which the MDC based itself, it can no longer be regarded as the main challenge for the future. It is therefore the Simba Makoni model which should be seen as representing a future challenge to the ideals of sovereignty, independence, autonomy, indigenisation and empowerment.

Where the MDC pretended to be based on workers, civil society, students, farmers and women — Makoni has discarded all these and assumed the narcissistic posture of RenĂ© Descartes: "I think, therefore I am."

Makoni is being used to repackage structural adjustment as "consultation with stakeholders". What he means is that, if the people of Zimbabwe were ever to allow him to win the presidential vote, he would go back to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, USAID, Sida, Norad, Danida, CZI, ZNCC and others. He would ask them how they would like the economy of Zimbabwe to be run and for whom.

They would not take time to lift sanctions and to put in place a blueprint for everything. Even his cabinet would come from technocrats and managers already acceptable to these "stakeholders". That is why it is totally unnecessary for Makoni to have a political party or movement. That is why for him everything about the future of Zimbabwe is simple and straightforward.

In other words, Makoni represents a very seductive approach based on imperialist assumptions about the effects of sanctions. The MDC and the sanctions were meant to soften the population through economic terrorism via sanctions and real violence via stayaways and bombings. It is now assumed that the people and the Government are now so tired and so hungry that they will welcome any smiling face which promises pie in the sky through capitulation to all the key demands of Western corporate interests.

This is tempting because there are some within Zanu-PF who believe what Makoni promises. In fact, that sort of belief was the basis for the temporary adoption of the structural adjustment programme between 1989 and 2001.

Makoni therefore appears as a man who has no ideology, no political party and no movement, exactly because the ideology was there and is there from the introduction of structural adjustment. The blueprint is also there and it has not worked as expected in those countries where it was accepted — Kenya and Cote d'Ivoire being recent cases.

Makoni is saying the future Government of Zimbabwe will need only to declare that it will be a good manager for Western interests and those interests have assured him they will "re-engage" Zimbabwe and do the rest on "behalf of the people".

Makoni is not only a "private" presidential candidate; he also stands for rampant "privatisation" in opposition to what he calls the command economy and command politics. These are euphemisms for strong government, for independence and sovereignty.

The majority of the people are crying out for remaining State enterprises such as the GMB, CSC, National Railways and Zupco to expand their capacities and services, but a significant number of so-called "technocrats" within the economic ministries and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe continue to demand the privatisation of such parastatals.

This demand for privatising and selling off more State enterprises is being made even as the same State is being forced by the current crisis to create more State enterprises and parastatals in order to intervene in the same "market" which is demanding more deregulation and privatisation.

The extent to which the World Bank, the IMF and "economic experts" deceived Zimbabweans about SAP can be shown by reading the magazine Social Change and Development No. 28 of 1992 and the Megabuck magazine issue of March 2000.

The whole issue of Social Change and Development was dedicated to the coverage of a national workshop on SAP. The majority of speakers at that workshop, including the Government representative and the then secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, accepted the basic claims made by economists about SAP and neoliberal economics.

They differed only on tactics to be adopted in the case of Zimbabwe. In other words, those who now lead the MDC agreed with the Government that the SAP recipe would produce a big cake as promised by economists. They differed mainly on how the cake should be sliced between the workers in ZCTU and the rest of the nation.

The paper summed up the wonderful rewards which economic experts, big business, the World Bank and the IMF said Zimbabwe would reap upon adoption of Esap, as follows:

-Many more jobs will be created;
-Many more companies will be started (especially in the expanding export sector);
-People will pay less tax;
-There will be no more shortages;
-There will not be any foreign currency problems (people would just walk into any bank and get hard currency on demand);
-People will be able to buy anything in Zimbabwe that they can buy anywhere else in the world; and
-Retrenched workers will be retrained and get new jobs in new companies which will result from the growth of privatised enterprises.

We do not have to ask readers whether or not these promises were fulfiled. The Government’s denunciation of SAP in 2001 was a reflection not only of the fact that these promised results were false but also that the Government refused to accept the Esap prescription for almost 10 years.

When it finally agreed to try the programme, there was already immense pressure and lobbying especially from the private sector using supposedly "scientific evidence" from economic "experts" about the way Esap was inevitable and the way it would unlock the gates to universal national prosperity.

While most Zimbabweans now agree that they were misled, there is little discussion of the main "misleading" field of "expertise" called economics, especially university economics. What this story reveals is the dangerous power of those who can employ armies of "professional experts" in order to change the destinies of entire nations.

The SAP was successfully marketed through the media as a techno-scientific, neutral, benign and inevitable scheme and its enforcement became more fanatical and zealous as failure became the only option.

As Jeremy Seabrook wrote in Victims of Development: "The Western economic system is an ideological construct . . . Economics in neither science nor art, but ideology.

Its system of accounting is extremely selective about what it includes and what it omits, in terms of both costs and benefits, profits and forfeits, advantages and penalties.

This partial and fragmented view of human affairs is now the focus of evangelising fervour by Western governments and financial institutions."

How exactly has neoliberal ideology operated in Zimbabwe? Like the mediaeval church ideology it has replaced, neoliberalism has created, falsified and promoted simplistic dichotomies. It creates a series of straw-men or "others" which it then demolishes in order to fake its superiority.

The feudal system of class oppression and exploitation was based on the following dichotomies, among others:

-Superior birth versus inferior birth;
-Nobility/aristocracy versus peasantry or serfdom;
-Superior lineage versus peasant or serf descent;
-Divine right to rule versus inherent obligation to serve; and
-Superior service or career versus rigid position of servitude.

Neoliberalism has created and popularised its own binary opposites which are just as arbitrary and oppressive as those of feudalism.

They include the following, for example:

-Civil society versus state;
-Personal choice versus community oppression;
-Free entrepreneur versus control freak;
-Free enterprise versus state monopoly;
-Individual initiative versus collective stagnation;
-Expert/technocrat versus ideologue;
-Entrepreneur versus bureaucrat;
-Good governance versus corruption;
-Open society versus closed society; and
-Corporate transparency versus state secrecy and corruption.

Now, as in mediaeval times, these binary labels do not in reality mean what they claim to mean. The Daily Gazette, The Financial Gazette, The Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard were among the vehicles used to promote the neoliberal catechism in the 1990s.

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