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Zimbabwe election 2018: Five things

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Zimbabwe Election

More than five million Zimbabweans are going to the polls on 30 July to vote in historic Zimbabwe elections. But what makes it different from previous votes?

1) The first election without Mugabe

Since Zimbabwe’s birth in 1980, only one person has ever won an election to lead the country – Robert Mugabe. He was prime minister until a presidential system was introduced in 1987.

But the 94-year-old was ousted from power last year by the army and those in his own party who were angered at moves to allow his wife Grace Mugabe to succeed him.

A few weeks before the military takeover in November, Mr Mugabe had fired his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and was manoeuvring for his wife to be appointed in his place.

But it ended in his downfall and Mr Mnangagwa became president. He is now the Zanu-PF’s presidential candidate.

And there is a change in the air when it comes to campaigning as all parties have been able to hold rallies and marches without hindrance or intimidation, unlike in previous polls.

International election observers from Europe and the US have been welcomed for the first time since 2002.

The media scene is also vibrant, with different views being expressed – though state media is still seen as the mouthpiece of the ruling party.

2) Longest ballot paper

Robert Mugabe’s exit from the scene has led to a flourishing of political ambitions – and 23 names will appear on the presidential ballot.

Fifty-five parties are also contesting the parliamentary election. Commentators say this shows how feared the former president had become during his 37-year rule.

Some of those trying their luck have returned from the diaspora to relaunch their careers. But the main presidential contenders are Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ruling Zanu-PF and Nelson Chamisa of the opposition MDC Alliance.

However, there is a controversy over the two-column design of the presidential ballot paper, which has Mr Mnangagwa appearing at the top of the second column.

The opposition says this is illegal, but electoral chief Priscilla Chigumba said if it was done as a single column when folded, a voter wouldn’t be able to post it into a ballot box as it would be too thick for the slot.

Evan Mawarire is not standing on the presidential ballot, though he is vying for a seat as a councillor in the capital, Harare.

The charismatic pastor became famous for his courageous criticism of Mr Mugabe’s rule. His viral #ThisFlag movement was sparked after he spontaneously posted a video expressing his frustration at the woeful state of the nation – and urged Zimbabweans to be proud of their flag and demand change.

He then organised a two-day shutdown in July 2016 – the biggest strike action in more than a decade – and was charged with trying to overthrow the government.

He was acquitted a week after Mr Mugabe resigned.

3) Ghost voters ‘banished’

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has introduced a fingerprint ID system to register voters, which it says has been able to identify when people register more than once.

It says the new system, which required everyone to re-register, means the voters’ roll is now “clean” and free from ghost voters.

In total 5,635,706 people are registered – 238,409 fewer than in 2013, despite an annual population growth of more than 2%.

In the past, one way in which people have allegedly rigged elections was by using the identities of dead people still on the voters’ roll.

The commission has denied recent allegations that 250,000 ghost voters have managed to get on to the new list.

It cited the example of a woman in Mutare, in the east of the country, who had registered three times, giving a different address in each case. But Zec said the ID system had spotted it was the same voter and her duplicate entries had been removed.

In total Zec says 92,000 people who initially registered have been excluded because of various anomalies.

4) ‘Witchcraft’ animals banned

The Zimbabwe election commission has banned a whole host of things from candidates’ logos, including some animals and weapons – though guns are allowed.

This is the full list of outlawed symbols, in the order it appears on the Zec website: Flame Lily, cheetah, elephant, secretary bird, flaming torch, leopard, lion, buffalo, griffon (mythical creature), owl, bird of prey, cobras, sword, rhino, laurel wreath and axe.

No official explanation has been given for why they are not allowed. Historian Pathisa Nyathi told Zimbabwe’s state-run Chronicle paper that witchcraft may have been a contributing factor in some cases: “From an African point of view, for example, an owl is associated with witchcraft. A snake can equally be associated with witchcraft. Also, depending on the type of snake, it could be related to ancestral spirits.

He added that plants and animals are seen as having “national significance” might also be a reason for the ban. The flame lily, for example, is Zimbabwe’s national flower.

The ruling Zanu-PF uses an image of Great Zimbabwe ruins as its emblem – an iconic stone tower from an ancient empire between two trees to symbolise unity; the opposition MDC has an open palm of a hand to depict openness.

5) The decline in anti-gay hate speech

The director of a gay rights group says there been “a sharp decline in the use of hate speech and harassment of the LGBT community” during campaigning in Zimbabwe, where homosexual acts and gay marriage are banned.

Mr Mugabe once infamously said gay people were “worse than pigs and dogs” and claimed homosexuality was unAfrican.

“LGBTI issues have been used as a tool to divert Zimbabweans from discussing other pressing issues affecting them and a convenient ploy for political leaders facing rampant unemployment, political unrest, and a downward economic spiral,” Chester Samba, from Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz), told the BBC News website.

Elections in the past have been characterised by scapegoating a largely invisible and unpopular minority, creating a moral panic, which at times easily escalated into a witch-hunt.”

He admits that no party’s manifesto has anything specific on gay rights, though Zanu-PF did invite Galz for a meeting to gauge the challenges the LGBT community faces.

Gay people face widespread stigma in Zimbabwe – it has been too dangerous to live as openly homosexual and as a result, many have been too scared to go to hospitals for treatment when they get ill.

In another sign that attitudes may be changing, the body that coordinates the treatment of HIV and Aids in Zimbabwe has announced that it is opening up five drop-in centres nationwide for gay men.
BBC

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HEALTH

Zororo Makamba laid to rest

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Zororo Makamba

The government has announced that Zororo Makamba, Zimbabwe’s first coronavirus casualty, has been buried, a day after his death at Harare’s Wilkins Hospital.

Information ministry permanent secretary, Nick Mangwana announced that Zororo, 30, was buried Tuesday.

“All protocols in handling departed loved ones who pass on from infectious conditions were followed,” he tweeted.

Zororo’s death has exposed the Zimbabwe government’s ill-preparedness in handling the coronavirus, with the family narrating how they had been frustrated each time they sought to have the media personality treated.

The family narrated how they had been forced to look for their own ventilator and that when they found it, Wilkins Hospital, which is the main referral centre for the coronavirus, said they did not have power sockets in the media personality’s room.

Efforts to get him to another centre were also frustrated.

Zororo Makamba, famed for his explainer video series, State of the Nation with Zororo, was the son of the politician and former broadcaster, James Makamba.

Zororo Makamba reportedly travelled to New York City in the United States of America and upon his return, he had cold-like symptoms.

At the time of his return, it was suspected that Zororo Makamba had a cold since he had travelled to the US in the middle of winter.

The government has announced a number of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has so far killed 17 250 globally and infected 396 200.

But so far, the Zimbabwe government has fallen short of instituting a lockdown.NewsDay

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NEWS

Pupurai Togarepi, Lewis Matutu and Godfrey Tsenengamu booted out

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Lewis Matutu

The Zanu PF Politburo yesterday removed secretary for Youth Affairs Cde Pupurai Togarepi from the post and suspended his deputy Cde Lewis Matutu and secretary for the Commissariat Cde Godfrey Tsenengamu for a year for indiscipline.

Cde Togarepi will, however, remain a Central Committee member, while Cdes Matutu and Tsenengamu will revert to being ordinary card-carrying members.

Cdes Matutu and Tsenengamu will be required to undergo rigorous training at the Chitepo School of Ideology for three months.

The Youth League secretary for Administration Cde Tendai Chirau becomes the wing’s acting deputy secretary.

Acting secretary for Information and Publicity Cde Patrick Chinamasa said the Politburo unanimously decided that indiscipline within the party should not be tolerated.

He said: “Cde Togarepi, who was serving as the secretary for Youth League at the pleasure of the First Secretary of the party, President E.D. Mnangagwa, will with immediate effect, cease to be the secretary of the Youth League.

“As such, he is no longer a member of the Politburo, but he retains his position as Central Committee member, as you all know, he serves in the Politburo at the pleasure of the President of our party and in this case, Cde Togarepi has been relieved from this position.

“Cde Matutu and Cde Tsenengamu have been immediately removed from their positions as deputy secretary for Youth League and Political Commissar, respectively, and this will be for a period of 12 months.

“This means they will be ordinary card-carrying members of the party and after 12 months, they will be eligible to stand in any elections to any position within the party.”

Cde Patrick Chinamasa told journalists after the 336th Ordinary Session of the Politburo yesterday, the first meeting in 2020, that the Politburo discussed at length issues around a Press conference held by Cdes Matutu and Tsenengamu, purportedly in their personal capacities.

During the briefing, the pair accused three prominent businessmen of corruption but did not give incontrovertible evidence implicating the trio.

“The Politburo took note of this irregular modus operandi which is alien to the party’s way of doing its business,” said Cde Chinamasa.

“It is also important to highlight that previously it happened and the Politburo deliberated and specifically gave a directive that the youth if they have any problems which are of significance to them, they should raise them in a proper forum.”

Cde Chinamasa said Zanu PF did not tolerate corruption in whatever form, by whomsoever.

He said anyone with information implicating anyone in corruption should approach the police so that the law takes its course.

“It is important, of course, to say and emphasise that the party does not condone corruption and as you are well aware, that it has set up structures both within the party and at Government level of which these can be approached,” said Cde Chinamasa.

“We basically invite and encourage our general membership that if they are witnesses and have evidence of any corruption against whomsoever, to raise these issues with the relevant authorities, in this case, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and where they think it’s pertaining to senior party members, they should bring them to the party.

“Unfortunately, there has not been any evidence that has been brought to ZACC pertaining to any previous allegations and I am sure that even now, we will probably find out that the claims or allegations are unsubstantiated.

“So, in light of these developments, we felt that the departure from the violation of the directive the Politburo called for, was an act of indiscipline and that it called for severe punishment.”
The Herald

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BUSINESS

Two killed, 20 feared dead in Globe and Phoenix Mine in Kwekwe collapse

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Globe and Phoenix Mine

Two miners died and two others were injured, while more than 20 others are feared trapped underground after a tunnel at Globe and Phoenix Mine in Kwekwe collapsed yesterday.

By the time of going to print, the actual number of trapped illegal miners was not clear, but indications were that about 25 miners were underground at the time of disaster.

Chief Government Mining Engineer Michael Munodawafa, confirmed the accident, yesterday.

He said rescue efforts were ongoing.

Eng Munodafawa said mining inspectors were still trying to gain entry into the collapsed shaft through other channels.

“We can confirm that two artisanal miners died while two others were injured and taken to hospital, after a mine shaft they were working under collapsed,” he said.

“We are still to get more causalities but there is a possibility that those who are said to be missing could have found their way out through other entrances and exit points.

“We are not ruling out the fact that there could be scores others missing, but they could as well have managed to escape; we will give a final update once the operation is over.”

Various groups operating at the mine were trying to account for each other with unconfirmed reports saying at least 20 were still unaccounted for.

It also emerged yesterday that Globe and Phoenix Mine ceased operations in 2007 following an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which showed the shafts, most of which were right underneath Kwekwe central business district (CBD) were posing danger to the city.

Kwekwe District Administrator Mr Fortune Mupungu, who is also the District Civil Protection Unit chairperson, said scores of artisanal miners were operating at the mine illegally.

Some of the artisanal miners were evicted from Gaika Mine.

“We received the sad news that several miners were trapped underground following the collapse of a shaft this morning (yesterday).

“A team which went underground to assess the situation only found two bodies,” said Mr Mupungu.

Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya could not be reached for comment last night as her mobile phone was unreachable.

Police only arrived around 3 pm while officials from the Mines and Mining Development Ministry arrived at 4:30 pm.

The police were assisted by some artisanal miners to retrieve the bodies from the shaft, before loading them into their van and left.

It was a tense atmosphere with some self-styled security personnel at the scene threatening to beat anyone who dared to take photos.

Some of the artisanal miners who had gathered outside the mine were ordered to leave.

“We don’t want any pictures taken from here. Those who came out of the shafts, please go home. We have stopped operations here. We only want to see relatives of those missing, everyone let’s go,” said one of the security people.

Eyewitnesses said the two miners, whose bodies were retrieved, were crushed by a boulder which fell off the collapsing shaft.

“The two were at the entrance of the shaft so there is a boulder which fell on them as the shaft collapsed, they were cut into halves but we don’t know what became of their colleagues who were inside the shaft, about 20 of them,” said an artisanal miner, Mr Mthokozisi Moyo.

Mr Moyo said the shaft where their colleagues were trapped was over 8km long.

“From outside up to the entrance of the shaft which collapsed, we need to walk for about 4km while underground, but the shaft itself is over 8km,” he said.
The Herald

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