ZIMBABWE has some 134 202 people over the age of 90 on its voters’ roll, and 74 000 voters over 100, we are informed. Thirty thousand of these have a birth date of January 1 1901.
A report by the Research and Advocacy Unit titled 2013 Vision, Seeing Double and the Dead, provided this useful testimony to the role of the Registrar-General’s office.
Other curious statistics include the 182 564 instances of entries relating to people with the same identification number who appear on the roll twice or more.
“Prior to the 2008 elections the office of the Registrar-General conducted (a) programme to register voters using mobile registration centres,” RAU reports. “There is convincing evidence that this programme was carried out in a manner that favoured Zanu PF in its timing, advertising and the areas concentrated upon.”
The figures for geriatric voters are baffling given that the average life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 37 for men and 34 for women. The figures could explain, RAU says, why the percentage poll in some wards in the March 2008 election exceeded the number of registered voters.
These figures were published by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network in the Standard last weekend.
Zesn played a key role last year in giving the public accurate results in the form of notices pinned to polling-station doors. They also paid a price in seeing some of their officers arrested for providing unwelcome outcomes.
Don’t we also recall Tendai Biti being charged for providing preliminary results?
President Mugabe’s coterie were convinced the Americans had manipulated the outcome. The nationalist gang supporting the president couldn’t believe they had lost, even though every survey ahead of the elections pointed to defeat. It was all a conspiracy against the revolutionary government of President Mugabe, they fatuously claimed.
A survey by the Mass Public Opinion Institute undertaken in May this year suggests that only a fraction of the population would endorse Mugabe in the next election.
What is significant about the MPOI report, observers say, is the number of rural folk who say they won’t vote the same way as last year. The report said Tsvangirai is clearly the key beneficiary of the inclusive government: About 78% of the total respondents said they trusted Tsvangirai, compared with 36% whose trust lay with Mugabe.
Tsvangirai’s work in the government was approved by 81% of respondents while only 24% backed Mugabe. The report however makes it clear that at the time of the research Tsvangirai was riding high on a wave of support and trust, and it remains to be seen whether he would be able to maintain it.
Biti has become a favourite target for state-run newspapers and their columnists. These are the same papers which prior to the GNU published a so-called “transition strategy” document, allegedly authored by Biti, suggesting how the MDC should proceed with regime change. It was a patent forgery including misspelling of the names of people Biti knew well. Most of the “proposals” were simply laughable. Like bringing back service chiefs from Australia. But Biti was nevertheless charged with treason for making “false statements prejudicial to the state”.
Now the same people who cooked up that nonsense are hurling abuse at him for real or imagined sins. His refusal to pretend the country is rich when Zanu PF has transformed it into a basket case is one such “sin”. He had a good name for them two weeks ago. “Nationalist fascists”, he called them. That’s exactly what they are.
The transition document claimed the MDC-Tsvangirai rigged the 2008 harmonised elections by bribing election officers with amounts ranging between Z$3 billion and Z$50 billion.
This is what Justice Ben Hlatshwayo had to say about the document: “To be honest, this document makes good reading for someone who is in bed. It’s a good document for bedtime reading. I have seen a lot of glaring shortcomings in this document because some of the issues and charges are based on assumption of things that did not or will not occur.”
The document was hawked around at the Sadc extraordinary summit for heads of state in Zambia last year. None of them appear to have bought it!
What we have now is the claim by Herald columnists that President Mugabe is generously giving the MDC time to have sanctions lifted. What these publicists don’t realise is that the root cause of sanctions — such as the ordeal Jestina Mukoko went through and the violent farm seizures — need to be
removed before the international community will come to Zimbabwe’s rescue.
The only reason Zanu PF entered the GNU was to have sanctions against them lifted. They are in denial about the election results. And they have not changed their ways. The unilateral appointments to media boards reveal just how unwilling the party is to work with their GNU partners. In a transitional situation such as ours consultation is essential at every level. But we have unilateral behaviour by last-ditch reactionaries who are working to sabotage the GNU project. Then you see whining columns and officially inspired letters to the editor about how awful the West is in keeping sanctions in place.
These guys are slow learners. All they have to do is stop behaving badly and sanctions will evaporate. Get rid of repressive legislation, clean up the voters’ roll, drop spurious charges against political, media and civic activists, stop threatening to restore the damaging Zim dollar, stop stealing farm produce, and open up the
public media to full national participation. Also stop blocking the independent media. Why is the minister unable to make a simple statement assuring Zimbabwean journalists in the Diaspora a safe and unhindered return as required by the GPA?
Meanwhile, gullible ministers such as Giles Mutsekwa should avoid manifestly naive claims that the ZRP was “a shining beacon of best policing practices in the region and internationally”.
Would Jestina Mukoko or Shadreck Manyere agree with this? Was it their experience that the police were applying “best policing practices”? One former and one current opposition leader currently face charges arising from last year’s election campaign.
Arthur Mutambara has been prosecuted under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and Simba Makoni under Posa. A number of editors face charges under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. What has the government done to repeal repressive legislation of this sort?
Please, no more whining about sanctions until Zanu PF’s sanctions have been removed.
Monday evening saw Spain’s national day. It was a lovely balmy evening in the grounds of the ambassador’s residence.
There were no speeches. But Muckraker recalls a wonderful valedictory speech by a Spanish ambassador a few years ago. He said he wanted to talk about a country for many years isolated and out of step with the region of which it was a part. An elderly dictator held sway, he said, backed by a military and party junta, while the people looked forward to a new era of growth and prosperity. They wanted to catch up with their neighbours who had pursued successful policies in a democratic environment.
“I speak of course of Spain,” the ambassador said to applause from an audience who immediately got his point.
Indeed, once the dictatorship came to an end, Spain progressed to becoming one of the world’s 10 richest states. Today it has the most extensive high-speed rail network in Europe and a high standard of living. And it is a flourishing democracy.
It can be done.
By the way, we hear senior officials in the Foreign Affairs ministry are telling ambassadors based here that they should not make speeches on the occasion of their national days.
This is nonsense. Ambassadors are entirely free to make whatever remarks they like on their national days or at any other time. Their homes are sovereign territory. They do not need the permission of pompous local officials to communicate the views of their governments.
We hope ambassadors will not feel intimidated by officials who exceed their authority. Nobody misses the predictable wooden speeches they used to stumble over in reply to their hosts. They made Zimbabwe look bad.
Let’s see some of our new ministers attending these functions and saying something appropriate to the changed circumstances. The fresh air of change should be blowing through the corridors of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Let’s see some sign of that.