Monday, April 28, 2008

Zimbabwe Elections Bulletin: Vote Recount Almost Done, Says ZEC; Drive to Put Nation on UN Agenda Continues; AG Tackles SADC Tribunal

Vote recount almost done, says ZEC

Zimbabwe Herald Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says it is concluding the recounting of election results in 23 constituencies and will thereafter invite presidential candidates or their agents to witness verification and collation of the presidential poll results.

The statement comes amid reports that MDC-T has retained two House of Assembly seats in Masvingo Central and Masvingo West constituencies while the Masvingo Senate seat remained in Zanu-PF’s hands after the recounting of votes.

ZEC deputy chief elections officer responsible for operations Mr Utloile Silaigwana yesterday said the commission was scheduled to invite presidential candidates or their agents to witness the verification exercise.

"Today we are concluding the recount in the 23 constituencies. Thereafter the commission will invite presidential candidates or their election agents for the verification and collation of the results," he said.

The commission, Mr Silaigwana said, was still compiling results from the 23 constituencies and these would be made public upon completion.

However, ZEC chairperson Justice George Chiweshe told journalists at the weekend that the commission was scheduled to invite the four presidential candidates who participated in last month’s poll to the verification and collation exercise.

Justice Chiweshe would, however, not reveal exactly when the announcement would be made.

"The process of feeding the recounted statistics into our systems has already begun. We trust that by Monday April 28, this process will have been concluded," he said.

"Immediately thereafter, the returning officer (chief elections officer) will invite the four presidential candidates or their agents to a verification and collation exercise, leading to the announcement of the results of the presidential election."

Justice Chiweshe said the chief elections officer and the candidates had agreed that each party would collate its own figures.

The statistics would then be compared at the end of the verification process.

He said several factors had hampered the announcement of the result and cited transport and communication challenges coupled with the recounting in the 23 constituencies.

In Masvingo Central, Mr Jeffreyson Chitando of MDC-T won the recount after he polled 4 908 votes against Cde Edmond Mhere of Zanu-PF, who managed 4 791 votes, according to final results displayed at the Masvingo Civic Centre, the venue of the recounting.

In Masvingo West constituency, Mr Tichiona Mharadza of MDC-T retained his seat after he polled 4 513 votes against Cde Jabulani Mbetu of Zanu-PF who polled 4 122 votes, while independent candidate Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi came third with 917 votes.

Among other results that were displayed were the Senate vote recount in Masvingo Central where Cde Maina Mandava of Zanu-PF retained her seat with 4 552 votes while MDC-T’s Mr Alois Chaimiti came second with 4 178 votes.

Masvingo provincial elections officer, Mr Zex Pudurai, said the vote recounting process had been completed in all the nine constituencies in Masvingo and ended without incident.

He attributed the delay in completing the vote recounting to minor arguments among representatives of political parties and dismissed reports that some of the ballot boxes were found open or to have been tampered with.

"We have completed the recounting exercise in all the constituencies in Masvingo, but we have not yet managed to get final results from other constituencies and the delay in the recounting process was purely over small arguments, but the process went on quite well," said Mr Pudurai.

‘Drive to put Zim on UN agenda open’

Herald Reporter

Efforts continue by Britain and the US to get Zimbabwe onto the UN Security Council agenda, especially during April when South Africa chairs the top UN body.

On Thursday last week, Britain and the US requested the council to ask the UN secretariat to give the council a briefing on Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the UN, Mr Boniface Chidyausiku, said last night that this was, under council procedure, this was a normal request not open to objection and was made during the agenda item "any other business."

But he described as "mischievous" the continued attempts to bring Zimbabwe onto the agenda while South Africa chaired the council since Britain would take over the chairmanship in May.

South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Africa group on the council have repeatedly argued that the situation in Zimbabwe is not a threat to international peace and security and thus should not be on the security council’s agenda.

Mr Chidyausiku was also critical of reports in some papers that an MDC-T team was in New York and would address the council. He noted that only Governments could speak to the council, not individuals or parties, since the UN was made up of States. Any MDC-T team in New York could lobby its friends, but that was the limit of its role. It could not, and would not, address the UN Security Council.

Police set free 29 MDC-T political violence suspects

Herald Reporters

POLICE in Harare have released 29 of the 215 people arrested at MDC-T’s Harvest House headquarters last Friday while those remaining in custody will be tried if they are positively identified by victims of political violence as the perpetrators.

By late last night, three of the suspects had been positively identified for malicious injury to property and assault committed in Mashonaland East.

Yesterday, the Government said some excited MDC-T supporters attacked soldiers and the general public in Manicaland Province.

Police raided Harvest House last Friday on suspicion that the opposition was harbouring perpetrators of political violence there.

"We released 29 people on Friday, mainly women and babies and the elderly. We have invited victims of political violence where those we rounded up come from to identify anyone who could have committed crimes against them. This is the process we are currently carrying out," chief police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said yesterday.

"We have profiled everyone we rounded up so that if need arises, we will always make a follow-up."

Asst Comm Bvudzijena dismissed claims that those netted were mainly elderly people.

Statistics given by the police show that 75 of those arrested were aged between 16 and 30 years while only one was in the 61-70 age group.

However, MDC-T lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama yesterday evening said the High Court had issued an order for the release of the opposition supporters.

He said he had gone round police stations where they were detained serving the order, but Asst Comm Bvudzijena said he could not comment on the order because he had not seen it.

In a related matter, the Ministry of Information and Publicity said the MDC-T supporters attacked soldiers who were training in Rusape.

"The latest incident in which MDC-T supporters sought to attack soldiers on training skirmishes around Chiwetu Rest Camp in Rusape leading to the death of one person and injury of two others is a case in point," the ministry said in a statement.

It warned that attacks on opponents in rural areas would not be tolerated.

"Seeking refuge at party national and provincial headquarters, including safe houses, after committing barbarous acts of politically motivated crimes will not save anyone from the might of the law.

"They will be pursued wherever and whenever until they are accounted for and brought before the courts of law," the ministry said.

The ministry said police had been briefed not to tolerate any acts of criminality anywhere in the country.

"Any victims of crime should immediately report such cases to officers on patrol or at their nearest police station so that any incident is quickly responded to. Crying the innocent victim to the international community is not a substitute for using recourse provided at law," the ministry said.

It said police and members of the defence and security forces would use necessary and appropriate force to ensure that life is respected and property protected.

"Uniformed forces will, therefore, remain alert on the ground to ensure peace and security for everyone in any part of this country."

The ministry appealed to everyone to observe peace and discouraged acts that could lead to anarchy.

It condemned a flurry of distortions and irresponsible statements from within and outside the country by people and organisations "who wish this country harm following the harmonised elections, which were held in an environment of peace and tranquillity".

AG to tackle Sadc Tribunal in land case

Herald Reporter

THE case in which white former commercial farmers are seeking to halt compulsory land acquisition in Zimbabwe is set to resume in Namibia next month with the Attorney-General’s Office expected to raise concerns about the manner in which the Sadc Tribunal has handled the matter so far.

The farmers applied to the Sadc Tribunal using Article 28 of the Protocol of the Tribunal as read with provisions of the Sadc Treaty to stop the State from compulsorily acquiring their farms in terms of the country’s relevant land laws.

On March 28, the tribunal granted the farmers interim relief against eviction, but an official in the AG’s Office has said the regional court erred in its judgment.

Efforts to get a comment from Deputy AG Mr Prince Machaya (Civil Division) were fruitless, but The Herald is reliably informed that Zimbabwe — as the first respondent — would seek to prove that the farmers unprocedurally filed their application for relief.

It is understood that the AG’s Office, in conjunction with the Ministry of State for National Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, has set up special teams to look at different aspects of the case and prepare the Republic of Zimbabwe for the May court proceedings.

"There are two issues that we will ask the Tribunal to reconsider. The first is to do with the manner in which the white farmers consolidated their application; and the second is to do with the involvement of Mike Campbell.

"As you know, Mr Campbell was the first white farmer to approach the tribunal and the court granted him interim relief against eviction.

"However, his fellow white farmers have listed him as a respondent in their application. How can a person be an applicant and a respondent at the same time? It does not make sense at all.

"In fact, Mr Campbell is listed as a second respondent, as Mike Campbell (Pvt) Ltd, in another application and Mr William Michael Campbell as a third respondent in yet another application.

"Secondly, for them to consolidate their application they should have first filed their papers with the Tribunal individually. They did not do this. They lumped their action and argued that a precedent had been set in the Campbell case and sought similar relief and yet they still list the same Campbell as a respondent.

"Furthermore, they did not prove how their case was urgent. Land reforms have been going on for a long time and now suddenly the matter is urgent after eight years of peaceful co-existence with the State because an election is due," an official in the AG’s Office said.

The official also said they were not satisfied with the tribunal’s contention that the farmers’ cases were similar and hence could be treated as a consolidated application.

"Some of these are individual farmers, some are farming as companies, and others have Bilateral Partnership Agreements and so on. So obviously all these peculiarities preclude any suggestion of homogeneity in the matter at hand. They are all different," the official said.

Deputy AG (Criminal Division) Mr Johannes Tomana said the tribunal’s judgment would not affect ongoing court proceedings in Zimbabwe against white farmers who were resisting land reform.

"We will continue to prosecute them under Section 3 of the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions) Act. The judgment in Windhoek does not affect our domestic criminal proceedings against them," Mr Tomana said.

However, Government insiders suspect there was "political gerrymandering" in the court proceedings and found it odd that the judgment was delivered on the eve of Zimbabwe’s elections.

"If you look at the MDC-T’s flip-flops on the land issue just before the elections, you tend to think that they knew what the tribunal’s judgment would be.

Our reading of the matter is that (Morgan) Tsvangirai was going to use the judgment as an excuse to reverse land reforms had he won the presidential elections.

"The judgment would have given an MDC government the leeway to claim that Sadc was opposed to Zimbabwe’s Land Reform Programme and hence the mandate to reverse the process. This ties in with the way white ex-farmers went around the country threatening resettled black farmers soon after the polls," a Government official said yesterday.

He added that the Law Society of Zimbabwe had also got in on the act and "encouraged" local law firms to pursue similar court proceedings with the Sadc Tribunal in a bid to reverse land reforms.

On 21 April, LSZ executive secretary Mr Steven Murambasvina wrote a letter to the managing partners of all law firms in Zimbabwe (reference number SM/jp/Sadc Tribunal) in which he expressed joy at the judgment and suggested that it be used as a basis to challenge the Land Reform Programme.

"I have the pleasure of attaching herewith a judgment which was handed down by the Sadc Tribunal on a case between Zimbabwean farmers and the Zimbabwean Government. I hope it would serve as a precedent in cases were (sic) remedies do not fully guarantee our clients’ rights," he wrote.

Zimbabwe embarked on its fast-track Land Reform Programme in 2000 after the State found the willing-buyer/willing-seller system was not empowering the black majority at a reasonable pace.

As a result, land previously in the hands of some 4 000 white farmers has been distributed to over 300 000 black families across the country in the commercial and subsistence farming sectors.

Sadc must avoid being used by Westerners

EDITOR — Sadc should not allow itself to be abused by the Anglo-Saxon.

Zimbabwe is under siege from an unrelenting and shameless imperial bully.

The regional body should ensure that it serves the best interests of member-states and provide a shoulder to lean on in challenging times.

We have come together a long way and the darkest hour is before dawn.

Zimbabwe — in line with its democratic tradition — held its elections, the results of which on the Presidential vote are believed from unofficial reports not to produced an outright winner.

A situation which, as prescribed by the law, may lead to a run-off election.

Can anyone in their right state of mind, call this electoral position we are in a "crisis"?

Is it a national crisis when an opposition leader fails to garner enough votes to be declared winner?

It is an electoral crisis within MDC-T alone and those who represent them in Sadc, it seems. We have got other serious challenges socially and economically which anyone can describe the way they want, "dire", crisis, disaster or whatever brought about by illegal economic sanctions imposed by the West which Tsvangirai and his allies lobbied for with unparalleled vigour.

Zimbabwe is today described in the Western propaganda media as a country under wanton destruction by President Mugabe and Zanu-PF, and in terms that are alarming.

Opening or signing off statements in their Press are unfounded statistics of people alleged to be displaced, killed, commodity shortages and an impending genocide.

This impending genocide gospel has been preached to the world for many years with time frames given for their occurrences passing with no such incidents.

That gospel has found new converts.

Converts who are too close for comfort.

We wonder why some who should be better informed to trash this propaganda and onslaught on a sister nation tend to be believing and justifying it.

Is it because the lies have been repeated too often such that they now take them for the truth?

Some religious leaders, people we expect to be morally upright, have been making statements that amount to inciting anarchy. Utterances that are so reckless and irresponsible, calculated at sowing tension, confuse and foment hostilities.

Our regional body, Sadc, seems to have been invaded by a cancer, which is engulfing even those we expected to be vaccinated and resistant.

Contaminated cells need to be quarantined. Sadc had been the most politically stable and peaceful region in the whole of Africa, any one who seeks to destabilise it for personal glory and egocentric motives should be damned by all progressive heads of Sadc. Someone is playing with fire here.

We have got a fantasist whose missions are Hollywood-inspired.

The onslaught on Zimbabwe is uncalled for. Westerners are building towers and towers of lies, and all that for regime change and imposing Tsvangirai on the people. Why foist this man on the people?

We will choke.

It is undisputed that a large number who voted for Tsvangirai and MDC-T were driven by a desire to have economic sanctions lifted, and not out of a genuine belief in his leadership capabilities nor as an endorsement of his policies.

How will Tsvangirai govern with no implementable policies, especially on land?

Trying to reverse land reforms will be tantamount to declaring war on the people, obviously reversal will be resisted.

The extent, form and shape of the resistance can only be imagined.

Tsvangirai will obviously be under immense pressure from his principals to deliver to their kith and kin the "Promised Land".

He has promised to deliver undeliverables. Without sanctions, even Langton Towungana will beat Tsvangirai hands down. Zimbabwe is better off without him, and will be more than happy to give him away for adoption.

For example, in the Mhangura House of Assembly constituency Zanu-PF got 11 042 votes against MDC-T’s 1 647.

It is a constituency comprising mainly of resettled farmers, will they comfortably and obligingly pack and return to a dilapidating compound of a defunct mine at the orders of Tsvangirai, foisted on them by sanctions and residents of Kuwadzana and Budiriro.

Tsvangirai can never rule without rendering the country ungovernable.

President Levy Mwana-wepi (where from) (Mwanawasa) what have you fallen for, to demonstrate such zeal over a Chinese ship with Zimbabwe’s arms, to ignore Sadc protocol and traditional procedures in convening such a summit on Zimbabwe’s elections.

Cad Mash

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