Sunday, April 20, 2008

Zimbabwe Elections Bulletin: Vote Recount Starts; Indigenisation Takes Effect; Racism Over Land

Vote recount starts

Sunday Mail Reporters

VOTE recounting kicked off smoothly in most of the 23 contested constituencies yesterday with the results of the parliamentary and council elections expected to be released at constituency counting centres while the presidential poll results will be forwarded to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s national Command Centre in Harare.

Recounting reportedly took off late in Silobela and Gokwe-Kabuyuni constituencies where Zanu-PF argued over the manner in which the ballot boxes had been handled.

The process was also delayed in Mberengwa West because MDC polling agents were absent. ZEC deputy chief elections officer Mr Utloile Silaigwana said last night that although he was yet to get full details from all centres, recounting had begun in most constituencies.

"Most centres are in rural areas. Hence, information has been taking time to flow in. However, I can confirm that the process has started in other places," said Mr Silaigwana.

According to the deputy chief elections officer, political parties and election observers were present to monitor the recounts. He said ZEC had deployed three fresh teams to each of the affected constituencies.

Mr Silaigwana pointed out that although the commission had engaged experienced polling officers, recounting would take significant time as the number of polling stations in a given constituency would be divided equally among the teams.

He highlighted that successful parliamentary and council candidates would be declared at the respective centres while details of the presidential poll would be forwarded to the command centre.

Commenting on concerns raised over ballot boxes, Mr Silaigwana indicated that ZEC was following due procedure. He pointed out that the boxes in question were not for ballots but had been used to store small pieces of equipment during the March 29 elections.

"After counting, the ballot boxes are sealed. But there is another box that is used to store equipment that would have been used in the election. People should understand that that box is not the one containing ballot papers," said Mr Silaigwana.

The recounts came as the opposition MDC-T said it would not recognise results of the process. Zanu-PF media committee chairman Cde Patrick Chinamasa would not comment on the issue last night.

He referred all questions to ZEC. "I cannot comment on the matter at the moment. ZEC would be the right people to talk to," said Cde Chinamasa. MDC-T spokesperson Mr Nelson Chamisa said his party’s national executive had taken a decision that they would not recognise the results coming from the vote recounts.

"The MDC through its national executive totally and roundly rejected the so-called recount of the votes principally on the basis it is a flawed process as it is criminal, especially considering the fact that the boxes were under Zanu-PF and its surrogate ZEC.

"We have no trust and confidence in the security of the ballot boxes because the chain of custody has not been clear to us. We will not authenticate their false allegations of fraud and we will not associate ourselves with an illegal process to reverse the people’s votes. This is not a recount. It’s a discount of the wishes of the people," said Mr Chamisa.

On Wednesday last week, the High Court gave ZEC the green light to recount votes in the constituencies which include Chimanimani West, Mutare West, Bikita West, Bikita South, Bulilima East, Zhombe, Zaka West, Zvimba North, Silobela, Chiredzi North, Gokwe-Kabuyuni and Buhera South.

Lupane East, Mberengwa East, West, North and South, Masvingo Central, Masvingo West, Gutu South, North and Central and Goromonzi West were also included for recounting.

Of the 23 constituencies, MDC-T had won 16 while Zanu-PF had taken the remainder. In Goromonzi West constituency recounting began in the morning at Domboshawa Training Centre where party representatives, the media, local and international observers gathered to witness the process.

Constituency election officer Mr Noel Madziwa said the exercise had begun smoothly and expected it to end in the same manner. "We are picking up and hope to finish soon," said Mr Madziwa.

Notable among the discrepancies observed at the centre was the emergence of a ballot paper, which was marked using polling ink. The paper was adjudged to have been spoiled.

In Gweru, the beginning of the exercise was delayed in Silobela and Gokwe-Kabuyuni after Zanu-PF complained that some ballot boxes could have been tampered with.

The process, however, got into gear at around 6pm after the respective parties reached an agreement.

Cletus Mushanawani reports that in Manicaland, recounting commenced despite initial disagreements.

In Buhera South, parties were involved in major disagreements over allegations that the ballot boxes in the constituency had been tampered with.

They also argued over the persons who were to be present during the recount. The matter was, however, eventually resolved.

Heated exchanges also erupted in Chimanimani West were MDC and Zanu-PF representatives argued after the former disowned their signatures.

At Old Junction, the polling officer could not account for activities at that centre. He said he could not remember details of the March 29 polls. Eventually, the parties agreed that the recounting should go ahead.

Indigenisation Act now operational

Sunday Mail Reporter

THE Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, aimed at economically empowering indigenous Zimbabweans and localising the economy, has become operational after President Mugabe set April 17 as the date on which enforcement of the legislation should start.

The proclamation fixing the date is contained in Statutory Instrument 63A of 2008, which was published last week. The Act was gazetted early last month, but the President had to fix a date when it would come into force as required by law.

Supporting regulations will also be gazetted in order to give full effect to the legislation’s critical provisions. According to the Act, indigenous Zimbabweans shall own at least 51 percent of the shares in every public company and other businesses.

It specifies that no restructuring, merger or demerger shall be approved unless indigenous Zimbabweans hold 51 percent shares in the resultant business. The said beneficiaries should also be equitably represented in the business.

No projected or proposed investment in a prescribed sector of the economy shall be approved unless a controlling interest in the investment is reserved for locals. This provision is, however, subject to temporary prescriptions that may see the Minister of State for Indigenisation and Empowerment altering the share allotment.

Reads part of the Act: "All Government departments and local authorities and all companies shall procure at least 51 percent of their goods and services that require procurement in terms of the Procurement Act from businesses in which a controlling interest is held by indigenous Zimbabweans.

"Where goods and services are procured in terms of the Procurement Act from businesses in which a controlling interest is not held by indigenous Zimbabweans, any subcontracting required to be done by the supplier shall be done, to the prescribed extent, in favour of businesses in which a controlling interest is held by indigenous Zimbabweans."

The law further states that the minister shall conduct an indigenisation and empowerment assessment rating of every company. He or she is empowered to review and approve indigenisation and empowerment arrangements.

In dealing with transactions involving mergers, unbundling, restructuring, investment and the relinquishing of a controlling interest in a company, the minister shall prescribe the necessary requirements by statutory instrument.

No such transactions shall be concluded unless the concerned parties give the minister notice within the prescribed time and manner. The Act also provides for the setting up of the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund.

The fund shall provide financial assistance to indigenous Zimbabweans in share acquisitions. It will also facilitate business start-ups, rehabilitation and expansion as well as other purposes which the minister considers will economically empower indigenous Zimbabweans.

Anglo-Saxon racism at war with Zim over land

AFRICAN FOCUS By Tafataona P. Mahoso

IN the last instalment we used the term "blitzkrieg" to describe the big and fast lies, the big and fast claims, the big and fast announcements, the big and fast events being staged and employed by MDC-Tsvangirai and its US, UK and EU sponsors against Zimbabwe.

The propaganda aspects of "blitzkrieg" are unfortunately described in most Western texts as "black propaganda" when, in fact, they are usually staged by white people against Africans and other dark people, and not by black people at all.

The easiest way to characterise this type of propaganda is to call it "war-time propaganda", or "war-like propaganda". This then alerts the people of Zimbabwe that although they are at peace with one another and with most of the world, the Anglo-Saxon axis of racism is at war with them over African land and minerals misrepresented as "democracy" and "human rights".

Let us describe the most recent examples of this war-time propaganda being directed against Zimbabwe’s peace.

The first example happened on April 15 and 16 2008. The British government and British intelligence instigated imbedded journalists at CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera and other white-driven channels to insert Zimbabwe among countries affected by war, countries which the UN was going to discuss on April 16.

The British and the North Americans also instigated the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, to mention Zimbabwe as if it was on the UN Security Council agenda when, in fact, it was not. By mentioning Zimbabwe in the context of Darfur, Afghanistan, Somalia and DRC, the US and UK were inflicting media violence on Zimbabwe, which media violence they hoped would at some point inspire and inflame real physical violence within Zimbabwe itself.

In addition, the open abuse of the Office of the UN Secretary-General by the UK and US inflicted diplomatic violence on those UN members who wish to adhere to legal procedures.

During the week leading up to April 16, a number of "black propaganda" videos attacking the peace in Zimbabwe were shown on BBC, CNN and Sky News. One of these alleged than a soldier had just defected from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. He had just confessed that the Government of Zimbabwe used soldiers to steal the 2008 harmonised elections for President Robert Mugabe.

The video was supposed to have been made inside Zimbabwe by an anonymous and unaccredited journalist interviewing an anonymous person claiming to be an anonymous soldier at an un-named place at an un-specified time. And these white-driven channels wanted the world to take this video for a true story.

A second video featured an un-named man claiming to be a defecting policeman from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). He also confessed that the ZRP stole the 2008 harmonised elections on behalf of President Mugabe. Like the man claiming to be an anonymous soldier, the alleged policeman remained faceless, rank-less, nameless and numberless. The surroundings in which he was filmed were also blocked for fear of revealing details, which would locate the place where the encounter with the cameraperson really happened. The BBC did not want to repeat the embarrassment which resulted from Hilary Anderson’s fake documentary in 2004 which claimed to have been made in Zimbabwe but showed Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Town in the background.

The third video claimed to present a male member of MDC-Tsvangirai who was seriously injured by Zimbabwe’s security agents or by Zanu-PF supporters as part of the alleged post-election repression intended to deny the MDC its alleged victory.

As in the other video clips, the man is not named. The place where the injury took place is not named. The day and time are not specified. And there is no location for the encounter with the alleged journalist or cameraperson. A big question remains unasked and unanswered.

The same ZRP being accused in the video received accolades from all observer teams for its professional conduct and for its highly publicised campaign to discourage violence before, during and after elections.

All the partisans who attempted to incite or commit violence during that period were arrested, tried and locked up. Why did this alleged victim of political violence not go to the same ZRP when, in fact, all the internal and external observer teams commended the same ZRP for its professionalism?

In such a situation why would this peculiar victim of violence find it easier to locate a "banned" and unaccredited journalist than to find policemen and policewomen parading on the streets and publicised throughout the media before, during and after the elections?

In other words, within the context of the real situation prevailing in Zimbabwe before, during and after the elections, the seriously injured man should be the first suspect in the alleged crime because he is protecting his alleged assailants from arrest and prosecution just as much as he is also protecting the alleged "banned" and unaccredited journalist (who, in fact, is a spy) from arrest and prosecution.

The appearance of the man’s wounds in the video suggests that he was either involved in a horrific traffic accident or he was mauled by a wild animal. He cannot go to the police and claim to be a victim of election violence precisely because the ZRP would demand a medical examination of all the injuries!

The cameraperson deliberately avoids showing much of the alleged victim’s body for fear that it might betray details inconsistent with the story being alleged.

On Tuesday March 25 2008, Al-Jazeera’s Inside Story programme claimed that the Zimbabwe Government was denying food to communities it considered as belonging to the opposition, when, in fact, the real story was that the illegal and racist sanctions imposed by the Anglo-Saxon axis on the country made it difficult for the Government of Zimbabwe to pay for food imports in years of drought and bad weather and that the NGOs allied to the MDC were using money and food donations to bribe voters.

On the same day, March 25 2008, a BBC reporter in Livingstone, Zambia, claimed that all street kids and prostitutes in that town were Zimbabweans who had run away from President Mugabe’s rule.

The BBC further claimed that all the food being eaten in Zimbabwe came from outside the country, from Zimbabweans who had run away to other countries.

This bold lie tied in with a previous panel discussion on SABC Africa at around 7am on March 20 2008. Two youngsters appeared on the panel: Tapera Kapuya (representing Lovemore Madhuku’s NCA) and George Rapela (allegedly representing the Young Communists of South Africa). The two youngsters broadcast several unchallenged lies about Zimbabwe, which again suggested a country at war.

The first lie was that Zimbabwe’s population in 2008 was still exactly as it was at the 2000 census, that is 12 million people. The second lie was that three million of the 12 million people had run away from Zimbabwe and were now living in South Africa.

The conclusion was that it was not possible therefore to register more than five million voters in Zimbabwe for the 2008 elections, since the total population there must be at most 12 million people minus the three million now in South Africa! After further subtracting youths and children under 18 years of age from the remaining nine million people, the panellists alleged that the country was almost empty.

The day after the voting ended in Zimbabwe, April 1 2008, both the BBC and CNN announced that South African President Thabo Mbeki had already brokered a deal which would ease President Mugabe and Zanu-PF out of power and bring in a new MDC-Tsvangirai presidency.

South Africa denied that such negotiations had taken place or were ever going to take place. In fact, at that time only the opposition had announced its own fabricated result of the elections. So there would be no basis even for speculating about negotiations over the results.

But the rules of war-time propaganda meant that neither CNN nor BBC would repeat South Africa’s denial of the story the same way it had repeated the lie. They simply allowed it to fade away, only to be replaced by new ones with the very same objective of using war-like propaganda against the peace prevailing in Zimbabwe.

How to deal with war-like propaganda against the peace in Zimbabwe

The first appropriate response to war-like propaganda directed against the peace is to assume that it is used so often because it has worked before against many countries. Therefore "black propaganda" by the white axis powers must be taken seriously. As the editor of African Business wrote in his editorial of February 1998: "People, some in very high places, believe what they read in their papers (even when it is concocted rubbish). Their attitudes are shaped by what they read and they behave accordingly."

Television is even more persuasive than the Press.

In other words, the propagandists of the Anglo-Saxon axis know that most leaders in most sectors are too busy to afford the time and energy to cross-check and double-check what they read, watch or hear. They therefore make things easy for themselves by trusting and believing those who make "news" convenient for them by bringing them ready-packaged "information" which does not require much effort to digest. War-like propaganda fits the bill.

The second appropriate response follows from the first: Every country must have think-tanks, agencies and individuals tasked with tracking propaganda directed against its citizens and finding and recommending effective responses.

The third appropriate response is to train one’s own citizens to recognise different kinds and different levels of propaganda. The fact that the Anglo-Saxon axis has been deploying war-time lies against our peace should send us an unmistaken message. According to Ludo Martens, using the example of attacks of Eastern Europe during the Thatcher-Reagan era:

"When the fundamentals of capitalism are threatened, no bourgeois state will hesitate to massacre thousands of workers or peasants, hundreds of thousands if need be. We only need to look at events (mostly seldom heard of in our Western media) in Germany 1918, Hungary 1919, Franco’s counter-revolution in Spain in 1936, fascism in Germany and Italy, the British war against the Greek anti-fascists between 1944 and 1949."

Mr Martens could have added the US-sponsored coup in Chile in 1973 and the joint invasion of DRC by Rwanda and Uganda in 1997-98.

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