President Robert Mugabe and first lady Grace during the run up to the March 29, 2008 national elections in Zimbabwe.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
EVERY Zimbabwean has an obligation to defend national sovereignty and should never succumb to imperialist machinations aimed at reversing the gains of the liberation struggle, President Mugabe has said.
Addressing thousands of people gathered at Gwanzura Stadium to commemorate the 28th Independence anniversary yesterday, Cde Mugabe said it was important to note that independence came after a protracted struggle hence the need to jealously safeguard it.
Departing from his prepared speech, the President said it was a shame that some Zimbabweans were being funded by the British to reverse the gains of independence.
He said those who fought in the liberation struggle did not do so for money, but for national sovereignty that included the right to land ownership.
"Tavakutengwa! Tavakutengwa semakwai, sezvipfuyo nokuti vane mari! What a shame mava kutengwa kudaro! Ndimi makafirwa nemhuri yatinoti magamba atakaradzika," Cde Mugabe said amid applause from the crowd.
"All of us have an obligation to defend our sovereignty. Today Zimbabwe is independent because its people are independent and its people must remain independent. Therefore, Zimbabwe shall never be a colony again."
The President said attempts by the British to recolonise Zimbabwe through their local puppets would never succeed.
He said the United Kingdom had no moral authority to preach to Zimbabwe about democracy as the Zimbabweans fought the former coloniser in order to bring about such democracy.
"We, not the British, established democracy based on one person-one vote, democracy which rejected racial or gender discrimination and upheld human rights and religious freedom," Cde Mugabe said.
Turning to the just-ended harmonised polls, Cde Mugabe paid tribute to Zimbabweans for displaying a sense of maturity by maintaining peace before, during and after the election period.
He said there should be no post-election violence as supporters of various political parties should co-exist.
"Izvozvo (violence) ngazviregwe. Those who are playing this must stop immediately otherwise they might be in serious trouble with us," Cde Mugabe said.
The President hailed South African President Thabo Mbeki for brokering the inter-party dialogue between Zanu-PF and the two MDC factions.
"I want to thank South Africa in a special way for the role it played in brokering the dialogue," he said.
On the international front, Cde Mugabe said Zimbabwe had continued to enjoy strong relations with its partners.
The country would continue to deepen such relations through Sadc and the African Union.
Cde Mugabe said Zimbabwe’s imminent chairmanship of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa should bolster efforts for stronger ties within that community.
Government, he said, was aware of problems being faced by the people and was working on measures to resolve the issues.
Cde Mugabe said Government would be forced to take over businesses that were increasing prices of basic commodities without justification irrespective of who owned them.
Funds had also been set aside to revive businesses that had been closed for various reasons.
In the health sector, the Government would continue improving the working conditions of the personnel coupled with increasing the availability of drugs and equipment.
As a way of alleviating transport problems in the urban areas, the State would continue to boost the fleet of the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company and acquisition of more buses under the National Transport Enhancement Programme.
In the energy sector, rehabilitation of two generators at Kariba Power Station was underway to increase power supply while special emphasis would also be put on promoting establishment of biodiesel plants in some parts of the country.
Cde Mugabe said Government was keen to provide decent accommodation in urban areas.
To this end, he said more housing co-operatives should be established while the Government would assist with youth brigades for the construction of the houses.
The President said Zimbabwe would establish a joint venture with a Chinese company to make water treatment chemicals to curb shortages that sometimes lead to water cuts in urban areas.
Commenting on social issues, Cde Mugabe decried the lack of discipline among the youths, saying some had resorted to drug abuse.
He said parents had a moral obligation to instill good cultural values in their children as some were walking on the streets semi-naked.
"Izvo zveguvhu kunze, mazamu kunze hatife ndakapindirana nazvo izvo. Ko chichazosara zvose zvichinzi zvose panze yacha chii?" Cde Mugabe said amid laughter from the crowd.
Government, he said, was concerned with the increase in rape cases involving minor children and might be forced to take drastic measures that included castration of the perpetrators.
Mbeki defends ‘quiet diplomacy’
SOUTH AFRICAN President Thabo Mbeki has defended his "quiet diplomacy" approach in Zimbabwe, saying that "loud diplomacy" was no diplomacy and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should be allowed to do its work without undue pressure.
Examining criticism of his quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwe, President Mbeki asked: "What is loud diplomacy? Well, it is not diplomacy, it can’t be."
While some countries "may shout", Southern African countries had a responsibility to try to broker an agreement between Zanu-PF and MDC, Mr Mbeki said.
He said ZEC should not be rushed into completing its work.
"I am quite certain it would be wrong for us to be shouting at the ZEC," he said.
President Mbeki, however, said his "no crisis" assessment had been misinterpreted, South African radio reported on Thursday.
"This story I said there was no crisis in Zimbabwe . . . I haven’t the slightest clue where it comes from," Mr Mbeki said following a special United Nations Security Council session in New York, where African leaders rejected Western pressure to condemn Zimbabwe’s elections.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr Mbeki said his declaration in Harare last weekend that there was no crisis was in response to a question about "the elections . . . not about the socio-economic conditions or anything like that".
However, the economic and social problems have largely been a result of illegal economic sanctions imposed by the West — at the instigation of Britain, the European Union and the United States — that have seen lines of credit and balance of payments support from multilateral institutions blocked.
Mr Mbeki, Sadc’s mediator in Zimbabwe, has been under fire in recent days for resisting pressure to condemn Zimbabwe.
President Mbeki’s remarks about "loud diplomacy" appeared aimed at British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has been at the forefront of the campaign to demonise Zimbabwe.
There have been indications that the South African leader has been growing increasingly irritated by pressure from Western countries, mainly former colonial power Britain, to take a tougher stance against Zimbabwe.
After attending a conference with Brown in Watford, England, last week, Mr Mbeki was pressed by UK journalists to explain why he was not taking tougher action on Zimbabwe. He retorted: "Zimbabwe is not a South African province, can we agree about that?"
At the Security Council on Wednesday, President Mbeki delivered what media reports called an amazing snub to Brown. Brown had been expected to pressure Mr Mbeki to speak out against Zimbabwe’s polls, but the South African leader cancelled the meeting because of a "diary clash", officials said.
South Africa’s UN ambassador, Mr Dumisani Khumalo, told Times Online that President Mbeki changed the planned meeting with Brown because "he only arrived in the early hours of the morning".
But another South African official said President Mbeki had arrived on time in New York, before 9pm on Tuesday night. After learning of the "clash", Brown cancelled a planned Press conference at the UN Headquarters.
The meeting was replaced by what a British official called a five-10 minute "brush-past" with President Mbeki in a room backstage.
Mr Mbeki, chairing the Security Council summit on African Union-UN co-operation, pointedly made no mention of Zimbabwe.
Stung by Mr Mbeki’s unwavering stance, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai is now calling on Sadc to replace the South African leader with Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa as mediator in Zimbabwe.
Mr Mwanawasa bowed to Brown’s pressure to call a Sadc Extraordinary Summit to discuss the Zimbabwean elections, but the regional body resolved that ZEC should complete its work while Mr Mbeki should continue to mediate on outstanding issues. — Sapa-DPA-Herald Reporter.
Zim marks 28 years of Independence
ZIMBABWEANS yesterday marked 28 years of Independence at various centres throughout the country at festivities punctuated with eulogies, military and police drills, live music performances, mass displays and soccer matches.
The main celebrations were at Gwanzura Stadium in Highfield, Harare where President Mugabe officiated while a delegation comprising largely of youths visited Chimoio in Mozambique to pay tribute to cadres who were massacred by Rhodesian forces during the liberation struggle.
The Gwanzura celebrations began in earnest after Cde Mugabe lit the Independence Flame and the Police Band led the singing of the National Anthem as the Air Force of Zimbabwe jets flew over in the traditional fly-past.
Prior to that, Cde Mugabe inspected the Guard of Honour after which detachments from the country’s security forces forming the guard declared: "Zimbabwe is a sovereign State, we shall defend it with our blood", to the delight of the thousands in attendance.
Some of people in the crowd held up banners with messages such as "Zimbabwe has no place for sell-outs" and "Independence and Sovereignty for all times."
However, the voice of Cde Simbaneuta Mudarikwa — who had performed the duty of master of ceremony at independence celebrations since 1980 — was the only missing part.
Cde Mudarikwa was recently elected Member of the House of Assembly for Uzumba and has since been replaced as master of ceremony.
The crowds were kept entertained by mass displays staged by about 1 000 schoolchildren, the police, the army’s Parachute and Commando regiments and the Airforce of Zimbabwe Traditional Dance Troupe.
Sulumane Chimbetu and the Orchestra Dendera Kings, among others, provided musical entertainment.
In his remarks introducing President Mugabe, the chairman of the independence celebrations organising committee Cde Ignatius Chombo said Zimbabweans should remember that the country’s independence did not come on a silver platter and should be guarded jealously.
Cde Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, said it was imperative to keep alive the memory of the bruising struggle that led to democracy.
"The venue where we are gathered is significant for a number of reasons. Gwanzura Stadium is adjacent to Zimbabwe Grounds, which we all know was the place where Cde Mugabe made his historic speech in 1980.
"Furthermore, this place is walking distance from Cde Mugabe’s home in New Canaan and so by all means this is what can be called the cradle of our liberation," said Cde Chombo.
"It is imperative to rekindle the memory of the protracted and bruising struggle that brought independence and ushered in democracy. Independence did not come on a silver platter. Many people were massacred by the cowardly Rhodesian regime and the loss of all this blood should not be in vain. We laud the determination of our heroes and admire their courage and pluck.
"Our leader, His Excellency Cde Mugabe spent 11 years in jail and many more at the forefront of the liberation struggle with other luminaries like Cde Chitepo, Cde Joshua Nkomo and Cde Muzenda among others.
"Cde Mugabe’s tenacious defence of the dignity of the people of this land and 28 years later he is still standing strong in defending our heritage."
Among the dignitaries in attendance were Government ministers, service chiefs, diplomatic, senior civil servants, Zanu-PF Politburo and Central Committee members and judges of the Supreme and High Courts.
In Chomoio, Mozambique Zanu-PF Women’s League Secretary Cde Oppah Muchinguri urged youths to remain patriotic and remember that Zimbabwe’s independence came through bloodshed and should be jealously safeguarded.
She was addressing about 800 delegates mostly youths, who were visiting the former liberation war camp in Chimoio where at least 2 000 men, women and children who perished while on a mission to free Zimbabwe were buried.
The visit was part of the independence commemorations.
"We want to leave the heritage to you the youth our future leaders but you have to be guided. You should not forget where you came from and you should always remember that thousands of gallant sons and daughters perished at Chimoio fighting for the independence of the country," Cde Muchinguri said.
Zanu-PF Youth League deputy secretary Cde Saviour Kasukuwere said youths should not take independence for granted but jealously guard against re-colonisation.
A sombre atmosphere engulfed the former liberation war camp as some of the delegates broke down after touching narrations by surviving cadres of the Chimoio bombing of November 1977 by Rhodesian forces.
In Bulawayo, scores of residents gathered at White City stadium to commemorate Zimbabwe’s Uhuru.
Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Governor Cde Cain Mathema, first inspected a guard of honour before he read President Mugabe’s speech.
The celebrations started in the morning with a parade of soldiers, policemen and prison officers accompanied by drum majorettes which marched from the intersection of Luveve Road and Nketa Drive turning into Hyde Park Road before moving to the White City Stadium where Cde Mathema inspected a guard of honour.
The entertainment menu included drills by drum majorettes, performances by traditional music and dance groups and the famous Light Machine Gun choir.
The Minister of Information and Publicity, Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the Bulawayo Zanu-PF Provincial Chairman, Cde Macloud Tshawe, Politburo and Central Committee members, service chiefs from the province and Government departmental heads attended the commemorations.
Also in attendance was former Politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa, who was among the dignitaries on the high table.
Dabengwa left the ruling party after he lent his support to independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni — also a former Politburo member — just before last month’s elections.
In Umguza, hundreds of people thronged Nyamandlovu Primary School to celebrate the country’s independence from colonial bondage.
The Minister of Industry and International Trade, Cde Obert Mpofu, who was also re-elected as the House of Assembly representative for the constituency during the March 29 harmonised polls, was the guest of honour.
Cde Mpofu read President Mugabe’s speech which was well received by the people, most of them newly resettled farmers from the constituency which was predominantly a white commercial farming area before the land reform exercise to correct the racially skewed land ownership imbalances, which were a legacy of the colonial era.
War veterans toyi-toyied and performed various drills.
This year’s celebrations in the Midlands were held at the traditional venue, Mkoba Stadium in Gweru.
Midlands Governor, Cde Cephas Msipa, newly-elected Mberengwa Senator and Zanu-PF Politburo member, Cde Richard Hove, and the provincial service chiefs started arriving at 9:45am.
Cde Msipa inspected the guard of honour before reading President Mugabe’s speech at 11am.
Before reading the President’s speech, Cde Msipa thanked the people for attending the celebrations and urged them to always remember the importance of commemorating the anniversary.
"Many people sacrificed their lives for us to enjoy the independence, we have today. A lot happened, we had orphans, widows and the maimed that came out of the protracted war for the liberation of the country. That is why, I always say we should cherish this day (independence anniversary) in honour of the gallant sons and daughters of the country, who perished during the liberation struggle,’’ he said.
After the formal proceedings, the public was treated to entertainment from the army with its helicopter displays and the police weighed in with its dog displays.
In Lupane, thousands of people braved the scorching heat to attend the Matabeleland North provincial independence celebrations at Somhlolo Stadium.
People began gathering at 10am but the official proceedings only started at midday.
Matabeleland North Governor Cde Sithokozile Mathuthu inspected the guard of honour, which was mounted by four detachments from the ZNA, Police and Prison Services.
She read the President’s speech and thereafter the public was treated to drill displays by the security forces.
In Masvingo, people thronged Mucheke Stadium to commemorate Independence Day.
Proceedings to mark the day began in the morning with detachments from the Zimbabwe National Army, Prison Service and the Zimbabwe Republic Police marching from Chikato Police Station to the stadium.
Drum majorettes marched in unison with the uniformed forces.
At the stadium, Masvingo Governor Cde Willard Chiwewe first inspected a guard of honour mounted by the security forces.
After the inspection Cde Chiwewe read President Mugabe’s speech.
Thereafter the security forces entertained the crowd with their drills.
The celebrations continued until late afternoon.
Celebrations were also held in all Masvingo’s seven administrative districts.
In attendance at Mucheke were top Government and Zanu-PF officials among them party provincial chairman Retired Major Alex Mudavanhu, his deputy Cde Clifford Mumbengegwi, provincial war veterans’ leader Cde Isiah Muzenda, Masvingo South Member of the House of Assembly Cde Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs president Chief Fortune Charumbira and service chiefs.
In Beitbridge, scores of people gathered at Zimbabwe Prisons Grounds to celebrate independence.
The army, the police dog section, drum majorettes, and schoolchildren who recited poems, traditional dance groups, entertained the crowd.
Home Affairs Minister Cde Kembo Mohadi read President Mugabe’s speech.
Addressing the same gathering Senator for Beitridge Cde Tambudzani Mohadi urged people to maintain a unity of purpose and complement the Government in its efforts to revive the country’s economy.
"As Zimbabweans we need to join hands and complement the efforts being made by the Government to address the economic challenges the country is facing", She said.
The main celebrations in Mashonaland Central were held at Chipadze Stadium in Bindura where people were treated to various forms of entertainment.
Mashonaland Central Governor Cde Ephraim Masawi inspected a guard of honour before reading the President’s speech.
Bindura residents interviewed by The Herald said they cherished the freedom fought for by gallant cadres.
Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera was the venue of the main celebrations in Mashonaland East province.
The crowd was treated to spectacular military and police displays and perfomances by poets and choirs.
Mashonaland East Provincial Governor Cde Ray Kaukonde read President Mugabe’s speech after reminding Zimbabweans that the independence they enjoy today was a result of a protracted liberation war.
"Many people are now selling out as they forget the bitter armed struggle that was fought. Ngatisakanganwe chezuro nekuda kwehope. We should defend our land and resources," said Cde Kaukonde.
He said Government prioritises the welfare of civil servants and in Marondera it facilitated the building of 143 houses by the National Social Security Authority in Rusike high density area.
In attendance were Marondera East Member of the House of Assembly Cde Tracy Mutinhiri, Mashonaland East provincial administrator Mr Cuthbert Ndarukwa and service chiefs.
Matabeleland South Provincial Governor, Cde Angeline Masuku paid tribute to people in the province for rallying behind Zanu-PF and President Mugabe in the 29 March harmonised elections.
Addressing people gathered at Pelandaba Stadium in Gwanda to mark the country’s 28th Independence Anniversary, she said support for the ruling party in the province had dampened the country’s detractors.
Cde Masuku said by voting for President Mugabe they had showed that they still had confidence in his leadership.
She said the President had a track record in politics dating back to the days of the liberation struggle, which brought Independence on 18 April 1980, and thus had proven leadership qualities.
"I thank you for voting for ubaba uMugabe, which really shows that we still like his leadership role. That is a positive thing indeed," said Cde Masuku.
ZEC is yet to pronounce the winner of the presidential election since the results are still going through the collation and a verification process as well as the intended recount today.
Cde Masuku said although the Zanu-PF Government had made mistakes, significant strides had been made in developing the country, since the attainment of Independence from the colonial bondage of the British-exactly 28 years ago.
MDC-T’s bid to halt vote recounts dismissed
By Takunda Maodza and Freeman Razemba
THE High Court yesterday paved the way for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to go ahead and recount votes in 23 constituencies after it dismissed an opposition MDC-T application to stop the process as Sadc observers arrived to observe the recounts.
The ruling came several hours after unknown suspects tried to petrol-bomb offices of the Gutu district administrator where ballot boxes for the recounts for Gutu South, Central and North constituencies were kept.
Police said the bombs landed four metres away from the offices, but did not explode.
"The three attackers arrived at around 0100 hours and parked their vehicle about 30 metres from the district administrator’s office. When the attackers were challenged by the police officer on duty, they ran back to their vehicle and drove away," chief police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said in a statement.
The bombs, which contained a mixture of petrol and fertilizer, were recovered and investigations are underway.
High Court judge Justice Antonia Guvava dismissed the MDC-T application with costs.
The rejection came four days after the High Court dismissed another application by MDC-T seeking an order to compel ZEC to announce results of the presidential election.
"I have considered carefully submissions made by counsels. I have gone through the Electoral Act. I find no merit in the application.
Accordingly, the application is dismissed with costs," said Justice Guvava.
MDC-T had argued that the request for the recounting of votes should have been made within 48 hours of the announcement of results.
"Only on the 10th of April . . . ZEC claims that a request has been received timeously. It is challenged to produce evidence," argued MDC-T lawyer Mr Selby Hwacha.
"The key issue for determination is whether the decision made by ZEC to recount all votes is lawful or unlawful."
In his submissions, ZEC lawyer Mr George Chikumbirike urged the court to dismiss the application with costs, saying there was no basis to hear the arguments.
Earlier, Justice Guvava had ruled as not urgent an application by the MDC-T seeking an order interdicting ZEC from declaring winners of the vote recounts.
"There would be no prejudice to any losing candidates (in the event of a recount) be it of the applicant or of any other parties. For this reason, I find that the matter is not urgent and is, therefore, dismissed with costs," said Justice Guvava.
In the application on behalf of the MDC-T, lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama said the case was "extremely urgent" as the vote recounting exercise was scheduled for this morning.
"Once it is done, certain processes follow. That is the declaration of winners. The respondents would conduct recounts and make declarations. It means different winners maybe declared as opposed to those already declared. That is incompetent in terms of the Electoral Act," he argued.
"Applicants would be prejudiced if they find themselves no longer representatives of the House of Assembly or Senate. Irreparable harm may be occasioned on our clients."
Mr Muchadehama said the 14-day window period within which an electoral petition could be filed by losing candidates had already elapsed providing no other remedy for his client in the event of a recount.
Mr Chikumbirike said the fact that recounts were set for today does not make the matter urgent.
He blamed the applicant for bringing the application before the court "on the 11th hour".
ZEC yesterday said all was in place for the recounts.
ZEC ordered a recount of votes for all the four elections — the presidential, House of Assembly, Senate and council — in 23 constituencies.
In an interview yesterday with our Bulawayo Bureau, ZEC deputy chief elections officer Mr Utoile Silaigwana said all was in place for the recount of votes today at the different centres.
"All is set for the vote counting which is there tomorrow (today). We have deployed our officers to their respective centres and we have invited a number of observers," he said.
The recounts will be done in Chimanimani West, Mutare West, Bikita West, Bikita South, Bulilima East, Zhombe, Zaka West, Zvimba North, Silobela, Chiredzi North, Gokwe-Kabuyuni, Buhera South, Lupane East, Mberengwa East, West, South, North, Masvingo Central, Masvingo West, Gutu South, North, Central and Goromonzi West.
Zanu-PF requested a verification and recount of presidential ballots and in 23 Lower House constituencies after unearthing evidence showing under-counting of its votes and inflation of opposition ballots.
Director of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security at the Sadc Secretariat Retired Lieutenant-Colonel Tanki Mothae said the observers started arriving in Zimbabwe on Wednesday with the last group jetting in yesterday.
"So far we have more than 50 observers and some of them are already in different provinces in the country. Some are still arriving and the number is increasing but the bulk of observers arrived yesterday (Thursday) and today (yesterday)," he said.
"We are here to monitor the process as required by ZEC and we are here at the invitation of ZEC," he said.
Rtd Lt-Col Mothae said they would consult and see if there was need to produce a report after the process.
The Sadc Observer Mission was one of several that observed the March 29 joint presidential, parliamentary and council elections and declared them free and fair.