For the last month Gibson Severe and his wife, Merjury Severe, known opposition supporters from Hurungwe district in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland West Province, have been hiding out in the country’s capital Harare. The Movement for Democratic Change – Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) supporters were forced to flee their rural home in Hurungwe district after Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) militias threatened them for encouraging people to participate in the recently-ended mobile voter registration. ”It’s been a month since we left Hurungwe district after the Jochomondo militia, which has known links to Zanu-PF, besieged our rural home accusing us of encouraging people to register to vote for the MDC-T,” Gibson Severe told IPS. Since last year, the Jochomondo militia has allegedly terrorised residents in Zimbabwe’s northern Hurungwe district, a Zanu-PF-stronghold, making it almost impossible for opposition parties to campaign in the region.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Zimbabwe.
As crucial presidential and parliamentary elections loom in Zimbabwe, a secretive Israeli-based company – accused of manipulating past elections in the region – is alleged to be involved in managing the Zimbabwean voters’ roll. Eddie Cross, a Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP who has proved to be well informed on security matters in the past, told the Mail & Guardian that he had been informed by security sources that the company, Nikuv International Projects, is working on the roll at Defence House, the headquarters of the Zimbabwe Defence Force. The MDC also alleged that Nikuv was a front for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, although it offered no evidence to support the claim. It is unclear what Nikuv’s involvement in this coming election is but it specialises in population registration and election systems. Cross said the source told him that the company is working under the direction of Daniel Tonde Nhepera, the deputy head of the Zimbabwe’s dreaded internal security arm, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). Another Zimbabwean intelligence source confirmed to the M&G the allegation that Nikuv is working on the voters’ roll “with the CIO”.
Zimbabwe is on track for another flawed election this year unless it can refresh outdated voter lists, approve “an army” of outsider observers and find foreign donors willing to pay for the vote, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Monday. However, postponing the poll to maintain a stop-gap unity government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is not an option, with the fractious coalition well past its sell-by date, Biti told a Reuters Africa Summit. “I don’t think we are in a position today, right now, of having legitimate, credible, sustainable elections,” Biti, a leading member of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, said. “At the rate we are going, it is obvious that we are going to have another flawed election … Zimbabweans cannot afford another flawed election.”
President Robert Mugabe’s lawyers dropped the June 29th election date before High Court Judge President George Chiweshe on Wednesday, but will continue challenging the court case on by-elections. This appears to be a development in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s favour, as he was rejecting attempts by Mugabe to call elections by the end of June. The President had gone to the High Court requesting to be excused from a court order to proclaim by-elections by 31st March 2013. That request is being opposed by three former legislators, Abednico Bhebhe, Norman Mpofu and Njabuliso Mguni, who want their vacant constituencies filled through by-elections in their constituencies. The 89 year old leader said it would be expensive to hold by-elections and then harmonized elections a few months later and wanted to proclaim the dates for harmonized elections on or before 29th June. Tsvangirai rejected this and last week filed an application in the High Court as the Fourth Respondent, objecting to the President’s proposed timeline.
Elections in Zimbabwe are still months away, but already President Robert Mugabe’s party is intimidating its opponents and threatening violence, human rights and pro-democracy groups say. Witnesses say Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party has begun deploying youth militia groups in some of its strongholds. A young mother in the Harare township of Mbare said militants of a pro-Mugabe youth group known as Chipangano, or “the brotherhood” in local slang, have started door-to-door visits in the neighborhood and told residents to attend night meetings where names and identity particulars of participants were written down. “They are watching me every day,” she said, refusing to give her name because she feared violent retribution. If she doesn’t go to the meetings with family members and friends her absence will be noted down on another list of suspected Mugabe opponents, she said.
President Robert Mugabe’s plans to hold elections by June 29 continue to draw suspicion with analysts saying the dates are not tenable as long as critical political and other reforms have not been implemented. But other analysts said implementation of reforms should be speeded up as it would be impossible to do that after June 29 when Parliament is automatically dissolved in accordance with the Constitution. Mugabe last week indicated in an urgent High Court chamber application that following the adoption of a new draft constitution in the recent referendum, harmonised elections will be held by June 29.
In an opportunistic move set to trigger a political storm ahead of crucial general elections, President Robert Mugabe is making back-door manoeuvres through the High Court to secure an order declaring polls be held by or on June 29, as Zanu PF increasingly sweats over its uncertain political fate. During this past week Mugabe and his Zanu PF officials have been strenuously lobbying for elections to be held by June 29, citing constitutional and legal grounds — dismissed by their political rivals and lawyers as expedient intrigues. Zanu PF insiders say Mugabe and his loyalists now desperately want polls by June as fears mount the 89-year old leader, who recently made a veiled admission to growing senility and frailty, might struggle to sustain rigorous election campaigns. In terms of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and elections roadmap, Mugabe is required to proclaim election dates in consultation with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The British government will demand EU observation role in the coming Zimbabwe election during the re-engagement talks scheduled to begin in London tomorrow reports in a communiqué leaked to the Press reveals. By their nature, communiques are brief reports or outlines of deliberations undertaken and cannot be prepared before such deliberations. Although the Zimbabwe re-engagement team comprising of Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa; Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma, and Regional Integration and International Co-operation Minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga left for London yesterday, a full draft communiqué dated 26 March 2013 had already been prepared detailing Britain’s position and the perceived contributions from the re-engagement team. The 10-point communiqué is titled “Friends of Zimbabwe, 2013 Draft Communiqué”.
Elections are in the air in Zimbabwe. A referendum on the new constitution was held this weekend and the general election is due before the end of October. But the signs all suggest that the upcoming vote will take place under conditions not dissimilar to 2008, when elections were characterised by widespread intimidation and political violence. Yesterday the office of the prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, was raided by police, who arrested four officials – apparently for impersonating officers. A prominent human right lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, was also arrested for “defeating the course of justice”.
Aides to the Zimbabwean prime minister have been arrested on unknown charges. The news came as vote counting was under way in a constitutional referendum. The three senior aides to Prime Minister Tsvangirai were arrested on Sunday. Later, Alex Magaisa, another of Tsvangirai’s advisors, told the AFP news agency that police gave no reason for the arrests. “They raided the house of the principal director responsible for research and development in the PM’s office,” said Alex Magaisa, an advisor to Tsvangirai. “He was arrested as well as his two subordinates. We don’t know the charges, but they picked up computers and a camera.” Beatrice Mtetwa, a leading human rights lawyer, was also detained.