Connect with us

NEWS

Zimbabwe Parties in Final Push for Votes as Campaigning Ends

Published

on

Zimbabwe's political parties

Zimbabwe’s political parties made a last-ditch pitch for votes on Saturday ahead of July 30 elections as a campaign distinguished by the absence of widespread violence that marred previous contests drew to a close.

A credible vote and an acceptable result would serve as a foundation for the southern African nation to rebuild its battered economy and relations with the international community after two decades of misrule and political turmoil under Robert Mugabe.

Both the ruling party and main opposition have pledged to create jobs, promote growth, attract foreign investment and bring an end to the corruption that characterized the Mugabe era.

The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, now led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took office in November after the military took charge and Mugabe was forced to quit, held its final mass rally at the National Sports Stadium in the capital, Harare.

Most urban centres are strongholds of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, and the 60,000-seat venue was about two-thirds full. Party supporters were presented with green caps, T-shirts and scarves upon arrival.

“This is a new Zimbabwe, a new era,” Mnangagwa told the cheering crowd.

He noted that he’d “opened the democratic space,” allowing all parties to campaign freely for the first time, before warning international observers to “just do your work and don’t interfere in our country’s politics.”

‘In the past’

Millicent Plant, 37, an unemployed Harare resident, said she’d begun supporting Zanu-PF after Mugabe left office.

“Mugabe is in the past,’’ she said at the ruling party rally. “People will forgive Zanu for what went wrong. Mnangagwa has begun improving things. He is promising us jobs.”

A few miles away, tens of thousands of enthusiastic MDC supporters dressed in the party’s red T-shirts and caps converged on Harare’s Freedom Square. The crowd was dispersed over a large area and its size was difficult to estimate.

“We know the current government is clueless and directionless,” said Nelson Chamisa, the MDC’s leader, who was mobbed when he arrived at the gathering. “Change is inevitable and unstoppable.”

Under Zimbabwean law, campaigning must end on Saturday. More than 5.6 million people have registered to vote for a new president, lawmakers and local government representatives.

Mnangagwa, 75, a former deputy president and spy chief, and Chamisa, a 40-year-old lawyer and church pastor, are the stand-out favourites among 22 candidates contesting the presidential race. One candidate dropped out late Friday.

‘Sick and Tired’
“Chamisa is the face of the younger generation,” said teacher Samuel Tayengwa, 27, who attended the MDC rally.

“Mnangagwa is the same as Mugabe. We are sick and tired of lies. Let us change the people who lie to us.”

Mnangagwa has a clear edge when it comes to funding – his image adorns billboards and thousands of posters, including two giant ones affixed to the sides of Zanu-PF’s 15-floor headquarters in Harare.

Mugabe was declared the winner of every election in Zimbabwe held since white-minority rule ended in 1980.

The MDC alleges the last three votes were stolen and that its supporters were subjected to murder, rape and arson by members of the security forces and ruling party militia.

‘First Step’
That violence led to targeted sanctions against some members of Zanu-PF and they could be lifted if Zimbabwe returns to the rule of law.

Free and fair elections are a “first step” toward that process, the U.S. embassy in Harare tweeted Saturday, citing Senator Jeff Flake who will monitor the vote alongside American observers.

Despite being peaceful, this year’s contest has been controversial.

The MDC says the voters roll is defective, controls over ballot papers are inadequate and the electoral commission is biased in favour of the ruling party — allegations the body denies.

The independent Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network, a Harare-based alliance of 34 civil-rights and religious group that’s monitoring the vote, said its audit of the voters’ roll didn’t identify significant anomalies.

In the Balance
The only significant opinion poll was conducted by research company Afrobarometer, which surveyed 2,400 adults between June 25 and July 6.

Forty per cent of respondents said they would vote for the ruling party, 37 per cent backed a seven-party alliance led by the MDC, 3 per cent supported other parties, and the balance was undecided.

A runoff election will be held on Sept. 8 if no candidate wins more than half the vote.
Bloomberg

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × two =

NEWS

Kembo Mohadi resigns amid sex scandal

Published

on

Kembo Mohadi sex scandal

Zimbabwe Vice President Kembo Mohadi resigned on Monday following local media reports he had engaged in improper conduct.

Kembo Mohadi, along with Constantino Chiwenga, was a deputy to President Emmerson Mnangagwa since 2018, but without a political power base, he was not seen as a potential successor to the president.

In a rare move by a public official in Zimbabwe, Kembo Mohadi said he had taken the decision to step down “not as a matter of cowardice but as a sign of demonstrating great respect to the office of the President”.

I have been going through a soul-searching pilgrimage and realised that I need the space to deal with my problem outside the governance chair,” he said in a statement released by the Ministry of Information.

Local online media service ZimLive has in the past two weeks carried reports that Kembo Mohadi had improper sexual liaisons with married women, including one of his subordinates.

Mohadi, 70, denied the accusations last week saying this was part of a political plot against him. On Monday he continued to deny the accusations saying he would seek legal recourse.

Continue Reading

BUSINESS

Zimbabwe agrees to pay $3.5 billion compensation to white farmers

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

NEWS

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

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Trending