Gu Xiulian, vice-chair of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC), meets with Grace Mugabe, the First Lady of Zimbabwe and head of a visiting women's delegation, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 19, 2007.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
TWO teams of observers from the Pan African Parliament and the Sadc Electoral Commissions Forum have arrived to observe this Saturday’s joint presidential, parliamentary and council elections.
PAP is a new body created by the African Union about three years ago while election bodies in the Sadc region constitute the ECF.
This is the second election PAP will be observing after the Kenyan elections.
Head of the PAP mission Mr Marwick Khumalo said they brought along 19 parliamentarians and 15 support staff from countries across the continent.
"We have come here to observe the elections in Zimbabwe and this is a team drawn from all parts of Africa, that include The Gambia, Chad, Burkina Faso, Libya, Ethiopia, Algeria, Mauritius, Ghana, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville and Tanzania among other countries," said Mr Khumalo, who is an MP in the Swazi Parliament.
"The purpose of our mission here is to ensure that the elections meet the standards of the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and the African Union Declaration on Elections, Democracy and Governance in Africa. That is the spirit within which we have come here.
"We have not come to prescribe to Zimbabwe how they should conduct their elections.
"We have no interest on the baby to be conceived, whether it is going to be a boy or girl, but to ensure whether the process leading to that is in place."
He said the team, which arrived on Saturday, has since started interfacing with stakeholders who include political parties, civic society and the media.
"It is a battalion of esteemed parliamentarians that have been deployed to observe the Zimbabwean elections. We are still trying to acclamatise ourselves and very soon we will be deploying our members to various parts of the country. Some of our members attended an MDC rally this afternoon addressed by its president," said Mr Khumalo, who is also president of the Southern African caucus of the PAP.
The PAP mission is expected to hold a media briefing today.
Head of the ECF Reverend Felix Mokobi said they were coming to Zimbabwe as impartial observers.
He said 21 observers from ECF would be coming to observe the elections.
Rev Mokobi commended Sadc for the role it played in assisting Zimbabwe.
"As (election) commissioners we will be as impartial as possible. We also want to commend Sadc for the role it has taken on Zimbabwe. There has been a lot of initiatives to assist the Zimbabwean people," said Rev Mokobi, who comes from Botswana.
"There have been perceptions about Zimbabwe, we don’t want these perceptions to be viewed as realities."
In a related matter, the Sadc observer team has deployed a total of 130 observers across the country following the arrival of a second group between Wednesday and Friday last week.
A total of 25 are in the capital and these include the secretariat and head of the observer mission, Mr Jose Marcos Barrica, the Angolan Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture.
The first group of 70 Sadc observers arrived two weeks ago.
Sadc secretariat media officer Mr Charles Mubita said observers who arrived on Thursday had since been deployed to all parts of Zimbabwe and had already started their work.
"They were deployed yesterday (Saturday) to various parts of the country. This means we now have a total of 130 observers from Sadc who are in the field observing political activities like campaign rallies, meetings and other activities.
"We also have about 25 people who form the secretariat and the head of the mission who are here in Harare," said Mr Mubita.
He said they were expecting more observers before Saturday.
"We are making consultations with ambassadors of Sadc countries here in Zimbabwe, especially those who have not sent their representatives. So we still expect more observers from Sadc and they will be deployed as soon as they arrive," he said.
Mr Barrica will continue consultations with stakeholders.
He has so far met with both MDC factions, Zanu-PF, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe from Africa and the European Union.
Yesterday, Mr Barrica received updates from his observers on the work covered to date.
"We will resume our consultative work tomorrow with political parties, ZEC and other stakeholders. With ZEC we want to recap certain important issues and we want to have met all these stakeholders by Tuesday," he said.
Mr Barrica has since said the environment prevailing in the country was conducive for free and fair elections.
He told EU and other Western ambassadors — who are seeking to discredit the elections — that they should not prejudge the polls.
‘Voting MDC wasting votes’
PEOPLE should go out in large numbers on Saturday and vote for Zanu-PF as voting for the opposition MDC is tantamount to wasting votes, President Mugabe said yesterday.
Addressing thousands of people at Stanley Square in Makokoba, Bulawayo, President Mugabe said there was no way the MDC could be allowed to rule this country as it is led by puppets of Western countries who would reverse the gains of the country’s independence.
"You can vote for them (MDC), but that will be a wasted vote. You will be cheating yourself as there is no way we can allow them to rule this country," said President Mugabe drawing applause from the enthusiastic crowd.
"We have a job to do and that is to protect our heritage. The MDC will not rule this country. It will never, ever happen. Asisoze sivume."
The President had the crowd in stitches when he said the symbol of the MDC — an open palm — is an indication that the opposition does not have the zeal to work for the people.
"What kind of a symbol is that? It shows that the MDC does not have the zeal to work for the people. As for our fist, it indicates the willingness to work. Thina inqindi silazo, siyanqinda futhi," he said.
President Mugabe said while residents of Bulawayo and Harare have tended to vote against the ruling party, he wants to see both cities voting for it this time.
Turning to the economy, Cde Mugabe said the Government was working on modalities of reviving it despite Western sanctions imposed on the country as punishment for the Government’s land reform programme.
The Western sanctions, he added, have hit the country hard as there are shortages of foreign currency and fuel, among other challenges.
Although Zimbabwe is a member of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, he said both multilateral financial institutions are not providing any assistance to the country because Britain and the United States are influencing them to do so.
But he said the economy would rebound as the country’s Look East Policy was beginning to bear fruit.
"Nhamo dzese dzamuri kuona — lack of foreign currency and so on — are because of sanctions," said President Mugabe.
"The Look East Policy took long to bear fruit because our economy was aligned to the West. But trade relations with India, Iran, China and Indonesia are growing. The West is also turning East."
He added that while Europe and the US publicly claim that the sanctions are targeted at certain individuals, they are also affecting the majority.
President Mugabe added that the Western powers also sought to widen the sanctions by dissuading some Zimbabwean allies, such as Libya and China, to cut trade ties with Harare.
The President castigated the MDC for inviting the sanctions and promising to return land to whites in the unlikely event that it wins the elections.
"Tichiri kuenderera mberi nekupa vanhu land. Vangati chii vakatipa nyika vana (the late Vice-President Dr Joshua) Nkomo nava (Simon) Muzenda? Kuti vati Mugabe watengesa nyika? Vari shure kwedu asi vapenyu kwandiri. Their spirits will live," he said.
He again attacked both factions of the MDC for approving the candidacy of former white farmers, David Joubert and Alex Goosen, who are contesting for the Bubi House of Assembly seat in Matabeleland North.
He said these two candidates and other white former farmers are still bitter about losing land to its rightful owners.
"Are there no blacks who can stand in those areas?" he asked.
In Marondera, in Mashonaland East, he added, there is also another white MDC candidate, Ian Kay, whom he said was splashing money in his campaign.
Cde Mugabe said many other whites have returned into the country and are hiding in safari camps in various parts of the country. They returned, anticipating an opposition victory, but they are mistaken, President Mugabe said.
He chronicled the liberation struggle, the suffering, injuries and deaths that blacks endured.
On the challenges the country is facing, he said the Government is aware that Bulawayo was facing power and water shortages, and work is underway to resolve them.
He said the Government is also working to boost the country’s electricity generating capacity at Hwange Thermal Power Station and at Kariba. In Gokwe, the Government is working with a partner to exploit coal deposits in the area to generate more thermal electricity for the country.
On health, President Mugabe said he recently got a present of US$1 million which he has used to buy scanners that are used to examine, in detail, the human body and identify any health problems.
"I have bought scanning machines which can see right into the liver in one’s body, in detail, what we go to South Africa for. They will be distributed to all major hospitals and, in future, there would be no need to go to South Africa for medical attention," said the President.
Later, he moved to Inkanyezi Primary School in New Lobengula where he addressed thousands of supporters.
He said the ruling party is the only political formation in the country that brought independ-ence and has the interests of the majority at heart.
He told the crowd that the MDC was created by Britain with the goal of effecting regime change in Zimbabwe. "Saka mochenjera zvino kana vachiuya kwamuri vachiti vanogona kugadzira upfumi hwenyika," he said.
"Tsvangirai wakandofunda kupi zvekugadzira upfumi hwenyika?" he added, drawing laughter from the crowd.
"Haakwanisi kuti azvifungire ega, anokwanisa kufungirwa nevamwe chete. Vamwe vake vacho ndivanani? Varungu nema (former) white farmers."
He urged the ruling party faithfuls to defend their national interests by voting for the ruling party.
"Shall Zimbabwe go into the hands of whites? Ndipo patinomira isu vamwe pakuti this is the time to make a stand. It is do or die. All we are saying is that stand together, the country is ours, our children died for it. We will never part with our land. Let the British hear that, that here we stand, here we shall die," said the President.
He, however, expressed concern at the defection of former politburo members, Dr Dumiso Dabengwa and Dr Simba Makoni, an independent presidential candidate.
He said by backing Dr Makoni, Dr Dabengwa has strayed into the darkness. "Haana kana kaparty," he said referring to Dr Makoni.
"He is the only one without a party. Even PUMA (Patriotic Union of Matabeleland). We know that PUMA will phuma. We know that this is also not a party, but Makoni has nothing, absolutely nothing. Makoni, Makoni, Makoni ndiyo iri kutevererwa naDabengwa, ahh no, no, no. Ndinoti vanorasika vanorasika zvavo asi isu tiri mugwara. Let us remain firm," he added.
He reiterated that the Government knew the challenges that the people were facing, but expressed surprise at how Bulawayo is facing a maize shortage. "I am surprised why Bulawayo is short," said President Mugabe.
"The railway lines from Zambia and South Africa pass through here. I cannot understand that. But since a lot of maize is still outside the country and being delivered, we will correct that," the President said.
He said the farm mechanisation scheme will continue and was not meant to benefit the ruling party during election time.
President Mugabe later presented six 40-seater buses and 11 smaller 14-passenger buses to the people, saying they were part of the 35 buses which Bulawayo Province would get like all other provinces countrywide.
Speaking earlier at both rallies, ruling party national chairman Cde John Nkomo dismissed reports being peddled by Dr Makoni that the independent presidential candidate was blocked from standing for the presidency.
He said party structures agreed that President Mugabe stands as the party’s presidential candidate for Saturday’s election. At the ruling party’s extraordinary congress in December last year, everyone was given the platform to nominate other candidates, but Dr Makoni and Dr Dabengwa, who attended the event did not object to President Mugabe’s endorsement.
Both rallies were attended by Politburo members – Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Cde Absolom Sikhosana, Cde Richard Ndlovu, Matabeleland South Governor and Resident Minister Cde Angeline Masuku, Bulawayo Metropolitan Governor Cde Cain Mathema, Bulawayo provincial chairman Cde Macleod Tshawe, national commissar Cde Elliot Manyika and the secretary for information and publicity, Cde Nathan Shamuyarira.
Others were Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial executive members and the party’s candidates for the forthcoming elections and service chiefs.
Remain in power until problems are solved, leaders told
KAMPALA--Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has urged true African leaders such as President Mugabe and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni to remain in power until they have solved problems facing their countries.
Col Gaddafi, who was visiting Uganda last week, said Cde Mugabe and President Museveni "should stay in power until they have solved all the problems in their countries or die while still in power".
"They should not be disturbed by elections because former colonial states want Africa to adopt their system of governance, which is not viable here," he added.
Col Gaddafi said Western-style democracy, which promoted multi-party political systems and regular elections to choose new leaders, was not practical in Africa as it created tribal divisions and fostered colonial imbalances.
He was speaking at the end of the 10-day Afro-Arab Youth Festival that was attended by delegates from 30 African countries.
"We have President Mugabe and President Museveni here as true African leaders. They are visionary and should stay. Why should a leader relinquish power when he is doing good things for his people?" Col Gaddafi asked.Instead, Col Gadaffi said, Africans should tackle day-to-day challenges than concern themselves with elections to choose new leaders.
"A leader should only leave power by the will of the people. You find a family of 20 children without a father and when you ask where he is, they say he abandoned them and lives with another wife. We should handle these real issues," Col Gaddafi added.
Cde Mugabe has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980 and has worked tirelessly with the people of Zimbabwe to retain the leadership of his country. President Museveni has, on the other hand, been at the helm of Uganda since 1986.
Col Gaddafi himself is one of the continent’s longest serving leaders.
He has ruled Libya for the past 39 years.He attacked Europeans for imposing their religions and beliefs on Africans and giving their names to countries, lakes and rivers.
"We should tell the colonialists not to preach to us their religions. This is Africa and we have our own way of seeing and doing things."— CAJ News-Sapa.
‘Govt committed to improving people’s welfare’
Zanu-PF National Chairman Cde John Nkomo says Government is committed to improving the welfare of people as evidenced by the ongoing farm mechanisation programme that has seen thousands of new farmers receiving farming equipment and implements since last year.
Addressing party supporters at a campaign rally in Bulilima last Thursday, Cde Nkomo said the mechanisation programme was part of a total package by the Zanu-PF Government that would usher the people into a new Zimbabwe.
Cde Nkomo said he was aware of the challenges and difficulties people were facing which he attributed mainly to the Western imposed illegal economic sanctions. In recent months commuter transport fares have been skyrocketing forcing people in some instances to pay $100 million for distances less than 50km.
Commuter buses plying the Plumtree-Empandeni route, which is less than 30km, are charging $80 million.
"We are quite aware as Government that our people are facing a number of challenges of which transport is one of them. Most of the buses on the road are not ours and it is difficult to control them. You cannot control that which is not yours. In that regard, we have decided as Government to bring our own buses," he said.
He said Matabeleland South was given 35 buses from which each district would be allocated five buses.
"We are not the ones who will decide the route that they should follow, all we are going to ask from you is that whoever is in charge of the buses must be responsible," he said.
Cde Nkomo also took the opportunity to explain that the farm mechanisation programme was an ongoing exercise.
"It is an ongoing programme. Those who did not benefit in the first phase must not despair as more equipment is coming in phases," he said.
Cde Nkomo told the people that the region would receive about 500 cattle.
"As you receive these resources, please share with others. They are not yours as individuals but are for the community," he said.
Cde Nkomo said the programmes that the Zanu-PF Government was rolling out were not mere politicking but fulfillment of Biblical prophesy as outlined in the book of Genesis.
"When God created the world and everything, he then created man in his own image.
"He gave him power over everything. He gave man a say over his domain," he said. Cde Nkomo said until the onset of the land reform programme, Zimbabweans did not have a say over their God-given land.
"There are some people who thought they were special over us. People who grabbed our God-given land from us, denying us the right to exercise what the Lord had given us. But, thanks to the Zanu-PF Government, under the tutelage of Cde Mugabe, we have our land back and need to practise what the Lord said," he said.
Cde Nkomo said it was important to note that voting for Zanu-PF was important, as it was the only way of safe-guarding the country’s resources from imperialists.
"By voting for Zanu-PF, you are protecting your land from imperialists, your wildlife, your land, cattle, monies and all the riches that go with this country. The British do not have all these, as for the animals, they only see them in a zoo," he said. Cde Nkomo reminded people to vote for Zanu-PF.
"When you go to vote on the 29 March, remember that a Zanu-PF vote is for empowerment of the people of Zimbabwe, remember that and vote for Zanu-PF," he said.
Cde Nkomo urged people not to be swayed by messengers of the West who come in the name of opposition parties.
"Yes, the British are thinking of ways of dividing us. Yesterday it was Tsvangirai, today it is Makoni. They will come with melodious voices but do not fall prey to their speeches as they are not their own man but stooges of the West," he said.
Cde Nkomo said sanctions were part of the British’s plans to unseat the present Government.
"Makoni just woke up one day to say he was a candidate. He knows he is not going to win, but is there to cause confusion among us. Divide and rule is the style the British have used and let’s not allow it to work. Where did Makoni get all the money for his campaigns? What business does he have to hold such sums of money? Beware of wolves in sheep skins," he said.