Wednesday, December 07, 2005


After a succesfull inaugral year, the holiday season is upon us. My posts here will slow down over the next few weeks but will resume again full steam ahead in the new year.

I look forward to next year and promise you that this brief reprieve will well worth it. I'm actually going to focus my strengths on a really cool project on telling the Zimbabwean story online.

Thank you for your concern and support for the Zimbabwean people. Happy holidays to you and yours!

You can reach Zimpundit at:

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  • Monday, December 05, 2005

    Eddie Cross: "Death of Democracy."

    The Death of Democracy in Zimbabwe.

    If nothing else, the Senate elections have clearly revealed the futility of elections in Zimbabwe as a means of changing those who have the responsibility of government. We knew it before, but it has never been as clear to us as it is now.

    The results were very revealing - if we adopt my hypothesis as spelled out in the last weekly letter, that Zanu PF held back in Bulawayo to give the MDC pro Senate faction some seats and that in those seats rigging was minimal, then we get the following picture nationally. In the five Bulawayo Senate seats the poll was 7,5 percent of the voters registered. Across the whole country 631 000 voters turned out, 3 per cent spoiled their votes and 124 000 voted for the MDC candidates despite the boycott call by Morgan Tsvangirai. This meant that 450 000 voters voted for Zanu PF. The total poll being 19,48 percent of the voters registered in the contested seats.

    Now if we assume that the Bulawayo vote (where the MDC pro Senate faction is strongest and has the best case for participation) is a reflection of the "true" vote, then this percentage poll estimated for the whole country means that some 388 000 votes were fabricated to ensure a Zanu PF "landslide". That is some 86 per cent of the Zanu vote and suggests that the true poll for Zanu was only a miniscule 62 000 votes or less than two per cent of the number of registered voters.

    This may be an extreme calculation but it suggests the magnitude of the nonsense that goes on in an election here run by this collection of clowns masquerading as democrats. If we take just one seat - that for Chipinge and Chimanimani - here in an area where Zanu PF has not won a seat in 25 years, they polled 36 000 votes, some 22 per cent of the total number of registered voters. In the last election that could be counted as reasonably run - June 2000, Zanu lost both seats by huge margins. This is clearly simply not possible. In fact I said to a friend who comes from the area jokingly - "so you guys have woken up and voted Zanu PF at last", to which she replied "come walk with me down the street of Chipinge and say that in public and
    you will be beaten to death!"

    On the day that I went up to Harare last week, the headline in the Herald was "Mutare Mayor to be thrown out". If we ignore the state of national elections and look at what has happened in local government elections the situation is equally shameful. In the last national local government elections the MDC won comprehensively in 13 out of 15 urban councils. These victories were especially marked in the larger centers.

    Since then we have seen the Mayor and entire Council forced out of office in Harare, the Mayor of Chitungwiza suspended, the Mayor of Mutare thrown out of his office and now facing suspension and the Mayor of Chivu thrown into jail on spurious grounds. All other MDC Mayors face constant threats against their tenure and administration In the Rural District Council of Hwange -one of the few controlled by the MDC, the elected Chairman was hounded out of office and has now fled the area and is living in Harare.

    Local government is already in a terrible state - lack of resources, the State not paying its bills, shortages of foreign currency for essential imports and urban populations growing rapidly without any consequential investment in water and sewerage. Our cities are a health time bomb. I talked to the Mayor of Bulawayo the other day - a man who has done a very commendable job for the City. We discussed a private sector initiative to solve the cities water crisis - he concurred with the ideas but said that his biggest problem was that the Minister of Local Government would not back it because it would be seen as an MDC initiative. In the budget there was no allocation for the new water supplies either for Harare or Bulawayo!

    In the Presidential election in 2002, it was estimated by those with access to the data that some 800 000 votes were fabricated - we know who did it and where and how it was done. Without these fabricated votes Morgan Tsvangirai would have won that election by 65 per cent to 35 per cent for Robert Mugabe and we would have been living under a MDC government right now. Instead Mugabe claimed a massive victory over his rival and when this victory was taken to Court for an urgent hearing, it was simply sat on and today - 3 and a half years later, has not been heard. In exasperation the legal team representing Morgan has now appealed to the Supreme Court to do "something" about the refusal of the High Court to hear the case. It took the MDC three years to force the Registrar General to bring the election documents to Harare for examination - a process which is only now under way.

    The people no longer have any faith in elections - and what a tragedy that is for the country and for Africa at large. I can remember like yesterday the enormous excitement in 1980 as millions went to vote to bring about the selection of leadership to take the country forward after years of war and isolation. I was on duty at a polling station and can recall the queues of ordinary people - the old, the young, the educated and the illiterate, workers and millionaires all standing in line with a common cause. The emotion of those for whom this was the first time to vote was plain for all to see and was deeply moving.

    Now those same people say what is the point of voting - we vote and they steal the result, we vote and they beat us, we vote and they starve us and deny us access to jobs and schools. Who can forget those vivid pictures from the June 2000 election of hundreds of thousands of people lined up at midnight demanding "we want to vote", the riot police using dogs and tear gas to drive them away from the polling stations when it became clear that they could not all vote - Zanu PF wanted to close the vote down while they were ahead.

    Who will not forget the stunned expressions on the faces of all when in 2002, the State radio announced the "result". Ordinary people everywhere said, "We did not vote like that!" For me personally it took about six months to pick myself off the floor of that election. What was just as bad was to then watch the Zanu PF administration punish those districts that had dared to vote against the monolith.

    But if we cannot change our government or our Councils by voting, then what can we do to get change when we feel that those in power are not acting in our interests? Do we really have to start killing each other again to get change? Today as I write, the UN has a senior staff member here to investigate our situation. I guess it is too much to ask that all he does is insist that next time we vote - if we ever get there, we will have the UN supervise the whole process so that we can vote for real change with the confidence that we will not be cheated yet again.

    We were told for many decades that the struggle in places like Zimbabwe was for "one man one vote". Post independence history suggests otherwise. However, this should not in any way detract from the fact that our people want to vote for the leaders of their own choice. To deny them that make mockery of everything the earlier generations of leaders in Africa stood for during the long road to democracy in Africa. No one knows that better than Mugabe.

    Eddie Cross
    Bulawayo, 4th December 2005

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  • Friday, December 02, 2005

    Murerwa a false prophet.

    Zimbabwe's optimistic and creatively defunct finance minister presented next year's budget, which to quote commentary on last year's budgetery announcement was just another "damp squib." Predicting GDP growth of 3.5% and an inflation decline to under 80% by year end, Murerwa presented a budget proposal riddled with fundamental contradictions.

    Zimonline picks apart the new budget charging that it lacks innovation and a dose of that essential ingredient to all things progressive i.e. truth.
    'Murerwa's budget even contradicted itself seeking to raise expenditure by about four times from last year's $27 trillion and at the same time forecasting annual inflation to drop from more than 400 percent now to 80 percent by December 2006, they said.

    "If inflation is coming down to 80 percent by the end of next year, why then do we need to raise our expenditure to levels that are about four times this year's? This is a contradiction," said Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president, Luxon Zembe.'
    This leads to another glaring loophole in the minister's line of thinking. If expenditures are quadrupling and revenues are going to decrease (because of the taxt relief), how will the government finance the deficit? With no creditors will to buy Zimbabwe's debt, it's clear they are planning on deficit financing i.e. printing money. This would be fine in Murerwa's fairytale land except for the fact that superflous growth in money supply (by printing money) erodes a currency's value. That is called inflation. Yet he wants to claim that inflation will decrease. The economy doesn't work like that.

    Economics is a lot bigger than the lies and illusions Murerwa is selling. More important than the numbers which he might aspire to is this maxim which should be the golden rule of all economic policy making: people respond to incentives. In order to stimulate the creativity that will distill growth of the economy, it is of paramount importance that policymakers decipher the most powerful incentives and line these up to improve the economy. Sadly such sagacity transcends the abilities of the nation's economic policymakers.

    Unlike the minister's boldly wrong predictions, the outlook is bleak for Zimbabwe's economy. The recession is not yet going to end.

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  • Thursday, December 01, 2005

    Minister turned "consultant" turns minister...again!

    Sithembiso Nyoni, the embattled minister who found herself stranded after she failed to win a constituency in the March parliamentaries is back--but not because she won public support. After losing yet again in the no contest senate elections, Nyoni dubbed a "perennial loser," was given back her portfolio courtesy of the legal gimmickry of her deeply abiding boss the president.

    Nyoni who's proved hapless under public scrutiny has now been appointed a non-constituency member of parliament, allowing her to become minister again. She took over the appointed parliamentary seat that was vacated by Edna Madzongwe who in turn was elevated president of the renewed senate. Under the Zimbabwean constitution, which ZANU-PF is want to observe only inasmuch as it remains malliable to their whims, all ministerial appointments must be members of parliament.

    Nyoni lost her ministerial title in July becoming a government "consultant" for her portfolio, after the 90 grace period expired following the March elections.

    I'm curious to ot know what kind of small and medium enterprise acumen our dear minister posseses which warrants such loyalty from Mugabe, who doesn't alway stick by "losers." The latter's dedication to the former is magnified in no small measure by the fact that several prominent ZANU cadres have either been given reduced responsibilities (in the tax funded govervenment gravy train), or have been left out all together after losing in elections.

    Enos Chikowore, a former minister who failed to make the ballot in the March elections, and was not appointed MP, killed himself after Mugabe spurned him. Dumiso Dabengwa, a one time intelligence supremo was left out in the cold this time around as he lost his senate attempt to the MDC. Former minister and top confidante, Emmerson Mngangwa only returned to parliament as speaker of that august house, a much smaller responsibility than he'd become acquainted with over the years, after losing in March too. These are just the headliners, there are many more who have fallen out favor with Mugabe along the way in calculated moves meant to guard his undsiputed reign atop ZANU-PF.

    Or is there something else going on here we are not privy to in the present? It could just be uncle Bob proving a point that his will prevails even against legitimate criticism.

    We'll wait, and we'll watch for posterity as it is prone to, will reveal all things in due course.

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