Soldiers have joined police in running clashes with hundreds of protesters in Harare, Zimbabwe who say the country’s presidential election is being rigged.
Police fired water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters as military helicopters flew overhead.
Three people have been killed in Harare, Zimbabwe as soldiers and police fought running battles with hundreds of protesters, firing live ammunition, tear gas and water cannon amid rising tension following the presidential elections.
Some of the clashes took place outside the headquarters of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in Harare, which opposition supporters say is biased.
There has been growing impatience at delays in releasing the results of, the first since Robert Mugabe was ousted after four decades in charge.
“We support [opposition leader Nelson] Chamisa and we want him to be our president. The electoral commission is not fair. Our election is being stolen,” said a 19-year-old student among the protesters.
Heavily armed soldiers jumped out of armoured vehicles in Harare city centre and spread through narrow streets after initial clashes between police and protesters.
Rocks flew through the air and terrified commuters scrambled for cover.
“This is all the government’s fault,” said Abigail Nganlo, a 29-year-old nurse from Harare. “We are on our knees with the economic situation.
People are so angry. The [election] figures they are producing are fake. Where there are 500 people at a polling station, they are saying 5,000.”
Soldiers were seen beating people with sticks as much of the centre of Harare– an opposition stronghold – was shut down during the afternoon.
Alex Kamasa, 30, an unemployed graduate, said: “They are desperate.
They have rigged the election. It is a big robbery.”
On Wednesday morning election monitors called for votes to be counted in an open and timely way, as the opposition stepped up complaints that it would be denied victory by fraud.
Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party has already won the majority of seats in parliament after sweeping rural constituencies by significant margins, official results show.
The parliamentary outcome does not necessarily indicate voters’ choice of president.
The result in the presidential vote – contested by the Zanu-PF president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and Chamisa of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change – is due by 4 August, but expected sooner.
Monitors have been warning of possible violence if the results are contested. Elmar Brok, the head of the first EU monitors to be allowed into Harare, Zimbabwe for 16 years, said the elections were a critical test of the country’s ability to reform.
Brok praised an “opening up of political space” but said the government had failed to ensure a level playing field, accusing the ZEC of being biased.
He called on the ZEC to make detailed results public to ensure the credibility of the election given earlier shortcomings. Other monitors also expressed concerns as the count went into the third day.
“Election day is only a snapshot of a long electoral process,” said the US congresswoman Karen Bass, one of the monitors deployed jointly by the US International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute.
“It is vital to see the electoral process to its conclusion, and it is still too early to make an assessment on the nature of these elections.”
The latest results announced by the ZEC in Harare showed Zanu-PF had won a two-thirds majority in the 210-seat lower house, which would allow it to change the constitution at will.
Chamisa’s MDC won 60 seats. Analysts blamed divisions within the opposition for the low tally.
Chamisa said in a tweet on Wednesday morning that the ZEC “seeks to release results to buy time & reverse the people’s presidential election victory”.
He added: “The strategy is meant to prepare [Zimbabwe] mentally to accept fake presidential results. We’ve more votes than ED [Mnangagwa]. We won the popular vote & will defend it!”
The election pitted Chamisa, 40, a lawyer and pastor whose only experience of power was a stint as a minister in a coalition government several years ago, against Mnangagwa, 75, a longtime Mugabe aide.
Chamisa said on Tuesday that he was “winning resoundingly”, a claim repeated by senior officials over the course of the day.
The interior minister, Obert Mpofu, said the government was concerned by “high levels of incitement to violence by certain individuals and some political leaders who have declared themselves winners”.
If no candidate wins more than half of the votes in the presidential election, there will be a runoff in five weeks. Negotiations to form a coalition government are another possibility.
The two presidential candidates represent dramatically different ideologies and political styles, as well as generations. Pre-election opinion polls gave Mnangagwa, a dour former spy chief known as “the Crocodile” due to his reputation for ruthless cunning, a slim lead over Chamisa, a brilliant if sometimes wayward orator.
Support for Zanu-PF has historically been deepest in rural areas, particularly the party’s Mashonaland heartland, where more than two-thirds of Zimbabwe’s 17 million people live.
The campaign has been free of the systematic violence that marred previous polls, but the MDC has repeatedly claimed it was hindered by a flawed electoral roll, ballot paper malpractice, voter intimidation and handouts to voters from the ruling party. Many of its complaints have now been backed by monitors.
Zimbabwe’s rulers know, however, that a fraudulent election would block the country’s reintegration into the international community and deny it the huge bailout package needed to avoid economic meltdown.
Almost four decades of rule by Mugabe has left Zimbabwe with a shattered economy, soaring unemployment and crumbling infrastructure.
Supporters said the president had won “a landslide victory”.
“The MDC are just extremely bad losers,” said Bright Matonga, a businessman and former Zanu-PF minister.
Mnangagwa appoints army General Sibanda into the Zanu PF politburo
President Emerson Mnangagwa has appointed General Philip Valerie Sibanda, the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, to the Zanu PF politburo, in violation of the national constitution.
During a Zanu PF conference in Gweru on Saturday, Mnangagwa announced that the country’s top-ranking soldier would become an ex officio member of the party’s highest decision-making body in between congresses. Mnangagwa, who benefited from a 2017 military coup, made this announcement during his closing remarks.
“During the course of the year, we lost one of our party stalwarts, Cde Joshua Teke Malinga who was the Secretary for People with Disabilities.
Philip Sibanda’s appointment is a violation of the national constitution which says “The Defence Forces must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional and subordinate to the civilian authority as established by this constitution.”
While Zimbabwe’s military is known for being embedded with ruling party politics, Sibanda’s appointment is an unprecedented case of a serving soldier taking a leadership position within a political party.
The Zanu PF-led authority has ironically hounded out of service, a lot of officers within the country’s unformed forces for associating themselves with the opposition, which protests continued military involvement in Zanu PF campaigns.
The appointment of Philip Sibanda could come as an attempt by the under-fire leader to hedge himself against a possible coup with the military ever interested in who should be in the country.
The controversial appointment could also fall within the willy politician’s paraphernalia of self-serving schemes amid subtle signals of an ambition to go for a third term.
Zimbabwe has a dirty history of military interference in the country’s political affairs.
During past election periods, partisan military commanders have vowed never to “salute” an opposition leader emerging from the country’s polls in an indirect threat to block the ascension into power of any winner of the presidential election who is not Zanu PF.
Mnangagwa could also be preparing Philip Sibanda for a post in the Zanu PF presidium.
Last year, exiled former cabinet minister and politburo member Jonathan Moyo revealed Mnangagwa was keen to name Sibanda as his second vice president.
Sibanda is among former liberation war fighters drafted into the country’s military upon independence after having waged the war as a ZIPRA combatant.
ZIPRA was the military wing of the former PF Zapu, a liberation war movement that fought side by side with Zanu PF for the attainment of independence.
The current co-vice president, also a former PF Zapu politician, is battling poor health.
Mohadi collapsed a week ago while addressing a Zanu PF rally called to drum up support for a Gutu party election candidate.
Zimbabwe Care Workers Fleeced Thousands of Pounds in COS Visa Scandal
Certificate of Sponsorship Scandal Sees Zimbabwe Care Workers Pay up to £8k for Visa
Care workers recruited from Zimbabwe are being trapped in the UK. They are forced to pay large debts to recruitment agencies before they can start working. Once they start working, they are paid very little and are often forced to work long hours without breaks. This has led to a situation where these care workers are being exploited and treated unfairly. It has been discovered that Zimbabwean care workers who come to the UK to start their careers are getting scammed and exploited by middlemen. These workers are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous middlemen who trick them into coming to the UK and then withholding up to 50% of their wages, forcing them to live in squalor.
Due to the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, many trained care professionals are seeking employment overseas. However, many agencies, which are often run by Zimbabweans in the UK and are unregulated, are exploiting these workers. Zimbabwean nurses have been working in Britain for years, but hiring care workers is a new trend. Experts say that an ecosystem of manipulation has been built around this phenomenon, which is highly exploitative. One way to move to the UK is to complete a Red Cross care worker certification program, which is highly sought after. However, locals say that middlemen exploit the certificate of sponsorship (COS) by charging high fees.
Terrence Macheka, a trainee nurse, plans to emigrate to the UK when he graduates, and he says that his wife was scammed by agents who charged $380 to put her on the training waiting list, despite the official Red Cross certification fee being only $300. Closed WhatsApp groups show that these agents then ask care workers to pay up to £5,000 to be linked with UK-based care agencies. This has created a web of corruption, where UK-based care agencies run by Zimbabwe nationals give the COS to their relatives and friends first, while others have to pay hefty fees that reach £4,000. Some charge as high as £7,000, which is against British law.
The UK law is clear that a recruitment agency cannot charge a fee for ‘placing’ an employee, and the person who ‘assigns’ or prepares and allocates the COS cannot be related to the prospective employee. However, regulation of these agencies is weak, and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) suggests that their hands are tied because these actors are not under UK jurisdiction. DHSC says that some organisations may use repayment clauses to recoup upfront costs if internationally recruited staff do not meet the terms of their contract, which is acceptable. Still, it would be concerning if the repayment costs were disproportionate or punitive.
According to experts, various schemes are taking advantage of the chronic staffing issues faced by the UK’s social and healthcare systems. The NHS alone has to fill 40,000 nursing positions, which has led to a surge in international recruitment. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) recently signed a deal with Nepal, allowing 100 nurses to work at the Hampshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. This pilot scheme could potentially open up opportunities for thousands of Nepalese nurses to work in the UK. However, the ethics of this move have been questioned by Sir Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians. Nepal is on an international recruitment red list, which the World Health Organization (WHO) operates to prevent developed countries from actively recruiting from regions with a lack of health workers or an undeveloped health system. Sir Andrew said, “That the UK should have [to] do special deals with other countries to support its own NHS workforce is in itself a marker of how workforce planning for the NHS has failed. That we are taking from a country that has substantially lower numbers of healthcare workers than many countries have is something we should have serious reservations about.”
NHS England has also been accused of “emptying” Zimbabwe of health workers. Although the country is not on the red list, experts have warned of a “critical shortage” of staff. In 2020, the UK issued 1,059 skilled visas to Zimbabweans, a figure which jumped to 5,549 in 2022, placing the southern African country among the UK’s top five skilled visa grantees. However, the recruitment drive has drained Zimbabwe so badly that Bulawayo municipality, in the southwest, recently complained that 13 nurses out of its skeleton staff have moved to the UK since January.
Despite the vast difference in the number of health professionals per population, Zimbabwe has managed to maintain a decent nurse-to-patient ratio, with 1.9 nurses and midwives per 1,000 people in 2018. In comparison, the UK had 8.2 nurses and midwives per 1,000 people. However, Zimbabwe is currently facing extreme poverty, which has led to nurses seeking better opportunities elsewhere. Despite being paid just $79 a month and dealing with a high patient load, Zimbabwean nurses have been fleeing the country due to the high inflation rate, which has shot up to 479% in 2020, according to Steve Hanke, director of the Troubled Currencies project at the Cato Institute. These nurses hope for a better life when they reach the UK, but many find themselves in a similar situation of financial insecurity. Experts warn that the issue of overcharging by agencies has become too large to ignore, with leaked care-worker pay slips showing salaries of £2,255 being drained by their employers under the guise of administrative fees until only £604 is left, causing an uproar on Twitter in June.
Mr Chagonda left the UK after only a few months due to unbearable conditions. He was not the only one who experienced a significant reduction in wages or had to live in cramped accommodations. During his time in Britain, he had to pay £70 a week to share a house with eight other people.
“I’ll never return to the UK as a care worker,” he told the local newspaper, describing such schemes as a form of modern slavery. However, the situation for those who were undocumented was even more dire. “I met people who had been in the UK since 1999, without papers, who worked as care workers for agencies and were left with only £300. You just do what they ask you to do,” he said, referring to his colleagues in Leeds. He added that some workers were so financially strapped that they had to sleep in their clients’ homes.
Zimbabwean Drivers in the UK: Converting Your License? The Ministry of Transport Addresses Your Questions
Recently, the Zimbabwe Ministry of Transport addressed the rising concerns about converting Zimbabwean driver’s licenses to British driver’s licenses. They shared an official statement on social media that provided answers to several crucial questions raised by Zimbabwean drivers.
Recognition of Zimbabwean Driver’s License by the British Government
One of the key questions addressed in the statement is whether the British Government still recognises the Zimbabwean driver’s license. The response was affirmative, confirming that Zimbabwean licenses are still recognised.
However, there have been unconfirmed reports of some Zimbabweans using counterfeit metal driver’s licenses in the UK. The drivers reportedly end up being involved or causing road traffic accidents
This has prompted the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in the UK to require Certificates of Competency. These certificates are now part of the conversion process
Certificate of Competency Requirements
A question commonly asked by individuals who have lost their Certificate of Competency, which is now required for conversion, was also addressed.
The Ministry explained that the current system does not provide for duplicate Certificates of Competency due to their limited validity of 30 days.
The Ministry is actively engaging with the DVLA to reconsider this requirement.
Class Conversion and Downgrading
The statement addressed concerns from individuals who have class 2 driver’s licenses but wish to convert to classes 4 and 5, as opposed to being limited to class 2. The DVLA’s hesitation stems from doubts about the skills of many class 2 drivers who may not have undergone essential tests. To address this, the Ministry is facilitating testing for class four licenses, ensuring that drivers are competent for their desired class.
The Ministry has emphasised the importance of avoiding the use of fake Certificates of Competency. It strongly warns against presenting counterfeit certificates to the DVLA or any licensing authority as this may result in the revocation of valid driver’s licenses. The Ministry further urges applicants to follow the correct procedures for license conversion and avoid any illicit means.
Contacting CVR for License Verification
Concerns about the DVLA’s ability to contact the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) for license verification were also addressed. The Ministry assured the public that CVR maintains regular communication with DVLA.
To assist with license verification, citizens were provided with contact information for CVR via email addresses:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com.
Additionally, individuals were encouraged to seek assistance from their respective embassies if needed.