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Nelson Chamisa rejects ‘sham’ Zec ballot

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Nelson Chamisa

MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday rejected the “sham” ballot papers produced for the July 30 elections and immediately dispatched his emissaries on a regional diplomatic offensive to pile pressure on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to produce a new set of ballot papers in the presence of all key stakeholders.

Addressing journalists and diplomats at the party headquarters, Nelson Chamisa declared that elections would not proceed before opposition demands had been addressed.

“It is clear that we have an election process stalemate arising out of the ballot paper scandal, the sham ballot and the voters’ roll inadequacies and omissions,” he said.

“This has culminated in an election crisis. For the avoidance of doubt, we do not and will not accept the current ballot paper that has been printed without our participation.”

Nelson Chamisa said the MDC Alliance was now engaging in a diplomatic offensive over the issue.“We will be dispatching special envoys in the mould of our alliance principals and senior MDC-T party members with messages to Sadc, African Union and the international community,” he said.

“We are also briefing all the international observers and diplomats on the current electoral logjam. In fact, I have already briefed some of them.”

Nelson Chamisa said the current logjam which allegedly favoured Zanu PF and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in the political playing field, needed the intervention of external forces.

“We, therefore, call upon Sadc, the AU and the international community to intervene and save a collapsing process and abate an imminent legitimacy crisis,” he said.

“We want to make it clear that we will not stand in the way of the people should they seek to exercise their constitutional rights to withdraw that authority from those who fail to exercise it in accordance with the law,” the youthful presidential aspirant added.

But, Zanu PF legal affairs secretary, Paul Mangwana said if Chamisa and the MDC Alliance had problems with the electoral system, they should approach the Electoral Court for recourse.

“They can’t come and talk to another player. We are also players in this election and we are playing well,” Mangwana said.
“We have no challenges and we are waiting to score on July 30. We don’t run the elections, the elections are being run by Zec.”

On allegations that Zanu PF was conniving with Zec to give the ruling party an unfair advantage over other parties, Mangwana challenged the opposition to prove the allegations.

“They should prove it, he who alleges should prove, but they should know that we are ready for them,” he said.

Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba early this week accused Nelson Chamisa of trying to tamper with the electoral management body’s independence and usurping its administrative roles by demanding consensus on the ballot paper designs and printing.

Chigumba on Monday declared that she would not bow down to Chamisa’s demands.

With the US having already issued a travel alert on Zimbabwe citing possible civil unrest ahead of elections to be held on July 30, Chamisa upped the ante, warning of civil unrest.

“It is for Mnangagwa’s advantage to have a stable society. There will not be any stability and legitimacy if we do not have a free and fair election. We are in circumstances of instability already because there is no agreement on the process. We are saying it will continue if we hold a sham election,” Chamisa said.

He, however, ruled out boycotting the polls or inciting violence, saying “We will never be tempted to go the route of violence. Those who have instruments of violence can go ahead and use them. We don’t want violence.”

Zec deputy chairperson Emmanuel Magade said there was no turning back on their decision to print ballot papers at government institutions. Fidelity Printers will be printing ballot papers for legislative and presidential candidates while Printflow will print for local government candidates.

”Section 239 of the Constitution makes it clear that it is the prerogative of Zec to run elections, including registering voters, preparation of the voters’ roll and printing of ballot papers,” Magade said.

“This is our constitutional mandate. Secondly, a few weeks ago all the nine commissioners of Zec spent almost a day touring the facilities, Fidelity Printers and Printflow where the ballot papers are going to be printed.”

The Zec deputy chair expressed confidence that the government printing institutions will be able to do a “sensible and solid job.”

He said fears that Zec might connive with Zanu PF to rig elections were far-fetched and untrue.
“I refute it, that is completely untrue. Its trillion per cent false,” Magade said.

“The question of rigging is clearly out of question. Of course, our society is full of doubting Thomases, but people should judge us on what we do and speaking for myself I have absolutely no doubt that Zec will deliver a free, fair and verifiable election.”

NewsDay

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BUSINESS

Zimbabwe agrees to pay $3.5 billion compensation to white farmers

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Zimbabwe White Farmers

Zimbabwe agreed on Wednesday to pay $3.5 billion in compensation to Zimbabwe white farmers whose land was expropriated by the government to resettle black families, moving a step closer to resolving one the most divisive policies of the Robert Mugabe era.

But the southern African nation does not have the money and will issue long term bonds and jointly approach international donors with the farmers to raise funding, according to the compensation agreement.

Two decades ago Mugabe’s government carried out at times violent evictions of 4,500 Zimbabwe white farmers and redistributed the land to around 300,000 Black families, arguing it was redressing colonial land imbalances.

The agreement signed at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State House offices in Harare showed white farmers would be compensated for infrastructure on the farms and not the land itself, as per the national constitution.

Details of how much money each farmer, or their descendants, given the time elapsed since the farms were seized, was likely to get were not yet clear, but the government has said it would prioritise the elderly when making the settlements.

Farmers would receive 50% of the compensation after a year and the balance within five years. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and acting Agriculture Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri signed on behalf of the government, while farmers unions and a foreign consortium that undertook valuations also penned the agreement.

“As Zimbabweans, we have chosen to resolve this long-outstanding issue,” said Andrew Pascoe, head of the Commercial Farmers Union representing  Zimbabwe white farmers.

The land seizures were one of Mugabe’s signature policies that soured ties with the West. Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup in 2017 and died last year, accused the West of imposing sanctions on his government as punishment.

The programme still divides public opinion in Zimbabwe as opponents see it as a partisan process that left the country struggling to feed itself. But its supporters say it has empowered landless Black people. Mnangagwa said the land reform could not be reversed but paying of compensation was key to mending ties with the West. Reuters

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NEWS

Chinamasa calls U.S. ambassador ‘thug’ as anti-government protests loom

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Chinamasa

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party on Monday called the United States ambassador a “thug” and accused him of funding the opposition ahead of this week’s planned anti-government protests that authorities say are meant to overthrow the government.

Without providing evidence, ZANU-PF spokesman Patrick Chinamasa told reporters that U.S. ambassador to Harare, Brian Nichols, was involved in subversive activities to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Chinamasa’s comments echo the Robert Mugabe era, where the ZANU-PF government regularly accused the United States and Britain of seeking to dislodge it from power.

“He (Nichols) continues to engage in acts of undermining this republic and if he does so, if he continues engaging in acts of mobilising and funding disturbances, coordinating violence and training insurgents, our leadership will not hesitate to give him marching orders,” Chinamasa said.
“Diplomats should not behave like thugs, and Brian Nichols is a thug.”

The U.S. embassy in Harare did not immediately respond to Chinamasa’s comments. Political tensions are rising fast in the southern African nation after activists called for demonstrations on July 31 against government corruption, which they blame for deepening the worst economic crisis in more than a decade.

Last month, the government summoned Nichols after a senior White House official said Zimbabwe was among “foreign adversaries” using the civil unrest in the United States following the death of George Floyd to interfere in U.S. affairs.

The U.S., Britain, E.U. embassies and the United Nations have all criticised Zimbabwe for the arrest of journalists and political challengers.
Relations between Zimbabwe and the West were promising when Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe after a coup in 2017, but have soured over the government’s human rights record.

Patrick Chinamasa urged party supporters to defend themselves from protesters and avoid a repeat of the deadly violence that followed post-election demonstrations in August 2018 and the January 2019 protests over a steep fuel price hike.“No, this time no. Use any means at your disposal to defend yourselves,” Chinamasa said. Organisers say this week’s protests will be peaceful. Reuters

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HEALTH

Perence Shiri, Zimbabwe Agriculture Minister Dies

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Perrence-Shiri-Dead

Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister Perence Shiri, a retired general who helped plot the ouster of Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup, has died, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Wednesday.

Perence Shiri, who commanded the air force for 25 years until he joined the government in 2017, was admitted to hospital on Tuesday, two government sources said. He died in the early hours of Wednesday.

“Shiri was a true patriot, who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country,” Mnangagwa said in a statement. He did not say how Shiri died.

But domestic media said Shiri, 65, succumbed to complications from the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, which has infected 2,817 and killed 40 in Zimbabwe.

A liberation war veteran,Perrence Shiri had a chequered past. He commanded the army’s Fifth Brigade unit that carried out the 1980s massacres of thousands of civilians in western Zimbabwe as the government sought to quell an insurgency.

The army massacres, known as ‘Gukurahundi’, a Shona term meaning the ‘early rain that washes away the chaff’, remain a sore point for the people of the Matabeleland region, many of whom demand justice and reparations.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change accused Perence Shiri of being among the security chiefs who organised violence against its members after Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential vote in 2008.Reuters

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