A bright light has been dimmed in Africa, our motherland. No it hasn't been switched off, for the legacy of this great nation-builder remains with us. We mourn, we remember but above all we celebrate a life well lived, fighting for peace, dignity and freedom for the down-trodden. Individuals like Nelson Mandela are not mourned, they are celebrated for he inspired change wherever he went and the millions of condolence messages pouring in are a testimony of the depth of character of this great leader.
By Kudakwashe Chitsike
Today is International Women Human Rights Defenders Day. For a change we have something to celebrate, after the trial of lawyer and human rights defender, Beatrice Mtetwa finally ended on Tuesday, with the magistrate finding her not guilty of obstructing the course of justice. This is after 7 months of going back and forth to court fight a case where she was just doing her job. Beatrice is a well-known human rights lawyer and her arrest and court battle were publicized in the local and international media, therefore we knew what she was going through. Her story is that of many women who have dared to stand up and fight for their rights and for the rights of others, not only other women but for Zimbabweans as a whole. These women are fighting for equality, social and economic rights, land rights, justice and peace, to name a few. These are all commendable causes and women human rights defenders should be respected and admired, but instead they are vilified. There are thousands of such women whose names will never be known and whose stories will never be told, but who in their own ways, however small, are paving the way for a better Zimbabwe.
The plight of women human rights defenders in Zimbabwe is dismal; they are routinely harassed by the police, arrested without being informed of the charges, kept in filthy cells, verbally, physically and sometimes sexually abused. When we really look at the conditions that these women are being subjected to, we find that there is very little to celebrate. Perhaps we should be ‘commemorating’ rather than celebrating. The authorities should uphold their national, regional and international human rights commitments to ensure the promotion and protection of the rights of women human rights defenders regardless of their political affiliation, ethnicity, nationality, religion or belief, status, age and sexual orientation.
Over the last five years, RAU has been documenting the stories of women human rights defenders’ over through reports and videos. Today we stand in solidarity with all women human rights defenders. We are honored to tell their remarkable stories and shall endeavor to continue doing so as long as there is a story to tell.
by Tony Reeler
One of the enduring questions raised by the 2013 elections is the magnitude of the win by ZANU PF, and the even more staggering win by Robert Mugabe. Questions about rigging aside, one relationship that keeps being posed (and answered) is the notion that ZANU PF did so well because the MDCs are so bad. Stephen Chan, a respected Zimbabwe commentator, has raised this recently, pointing out (in his view) that “…Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) performed appallingly. Outwardly confident, it made the same mistakes it had in previous elections – as if internal reflection, self-criticism and learning from mistakes were impossible”.
A similar view is expressed by the Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT):
All these issues point to a party that has not been able to strengthen its organizational and strategic framework against a repressive regime that has constantly harassed its leadership and structures. However, since 2009 these weaknesses have eroded the support of both MDCs, as was evident from opinion polls carried out in 2012, which showed a drop in support for the MDCs and Tsvangirai and an upsurge in popularity for Mugabe and his party. These weaknesses and, of particular importance to the election campaign, the failure of the two MDC formations to develop an electoral pact in 2013, resulted in the loss of several seats to ZANU PF due to a split vote. For example in Matabeleland South, 8 of the 13 seats were lost to ZANU PF because of the this factor, while in Matabeleland North a united opposition would have won 11 of the 13 seats instead of which ZANU PF won 7 out of the 13. Together these factors meant that the MDCs were a much weaker force in 2013 than they were in 2008.
Now we must also note the arguments about ZANU PF developing a strong social base due to land reform and indigenisation, and also the problems of explaining this social base by reference to Mugabe’s 1 million voter margin over Tsvangirai, and concentrate on another source of “evidence” for the result. This is the evidence deriving from public opinion surveys. Essentially, there is an argument that ZANU PF has been increasing in its popularity with the citizens of Zimbabwe, and it is this popularity that explains the election result.
But before looking at this “evidence”, let us look briefly at the argument that ZANU PF obtained this enormous increase due to a massive increase in its “social base”, and we will ignore the issues of whether this is a social base due to “positive affiliation” (identification and voluntary support) or due to “patronage” (compliance and support based on comparative advantage for supporting ZANU PF).
The basis for this “social base” is generally argued to be three-fold: old Liberation War allegiance (mostly in the rural areas), access to land from land reform, and access to the benefits (or hoped-for benefits) of indigenisation. As regards the first of these, it is indisputable that ZANU PF commands voluntary allegiance from substantial rural supporters, and it was largely this group that gave Robert Mugabe his 43% in March 2008. And, in 2008, most land reform had already been in place for nearly 10 years, and that did not seem to give Robert Mugabe the advantage that is alleged he got in 2013. The big benefit on land seems to be increased tobacco production at the cost of food production.
As for indigenisation, it seems fairly clear that there have been few actual beneficiaries in rural communities, especially in Matabeleland North and South, although there are promises for the future when ZANU PF wins the election. So the benefits of indigenisation on the voters must have been expected in the future and a reason to vote for ZANU PF, which may be a possible explanation. However, it should be pointed out that very little of the US$4 billion supposedly realised from indigenisation seems to have landed in the fiscus, so it can equally be argued that the lack of benefits for the ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe should have counted against a vote for ZANU PF.
However, the assumption is that the “social base” can be inferred mostly from voter turn out, and there seems a missing step in the logic here.
Contrast these two statements:
If ZANU PF has a social base, they will get lots of votes.
ZANU PF got lots of votes.
Therefore, ZANU PF has a social base.
If ZANU PF gets lots of votes, they have a social base.
ZANU PF has a social base.
Therefore, ZANU PF gets lots of votes.
What is obviously missing here is any obvious link between lots of votes and social base. We can empirically verify the votes: they were in the boxes and counted. We can believe that land reform and indigenisation can make people ZANU PF friendly, but there is a missing step in the logic that shows that being ZANU PF friendly comes from land reform and indigenisation independently of the voter turn-out. This is where public opinion surveys and other forms of social research have their application.
Partial support for many has been a 2012 report by Freedom House, which concluded that support for the MDC-T had slipped markedly – from 38% to 20% – and that for ZANU PF had risen by the same amount – from 17% to 31%. This report (and the SPT report) is being mendaciously used by the ZANU PF media to “explain the victory”. Essentially, the spin is that, in the period from 2010 to 2012, MDC-T’s support was sliding, and, one year on, ZANU PF’s support had increased so dramatically that the result was intelligible to all on the basis of changes in political party support.
However, basing election outcomes on public opinion surveys is always a dicey affair, especially when so many of the people do not give an opinion. In the Freedom House 2012 survey, 47% were unwilling to state their voting intentions, and this needs to be thought about carefully: nearly half would not say. But presumably, and in the light of 2013, these were interviewees who were worried about declaring their affiliation to ZANU PF for fear of victimisation. Reality suggests that this is not the case!
But there is a more serious problem with reliance on the Freedom House report – that it is not methodologically sound, and its conclusions are probably erroneous. A more empirically sound report, “The Margin of Terror”, was compiled by Michael Bratton and Eldred Masunungure of the Afrobarometer, and this came to rather different and more nuanced conclusions than those of Freedom House. They also provided a number of reasons why the Freedom House report was methodologically unsound.
Firstly, this report concluded, on simple voter preference, that ZANU PF and MDC-T were in a “statistical dead heat”, with the former getting 32% and the latter 31%, and only 22% were unwilling to state their preference. This did represent a decline for the MDC-T from the post 2008 election heyday to early 2009 where expressed preference for MDC-T was 57% to ZANU PF’s 10%. So the difference here between Freedom House and the Afrobarometer is both over the extent of the decline and the final positions that both parties found themselves in 2012.
Secondly, Bratton and Masunungure posed two hypotheses to account for the decline: one was the positive effect of improved government performance, and the second was the negative effect of political fear. They tested both, and the conclusions, on face value, supported both working in favour of ZANU PF.
After careful statistical analysis, it appears that some voters attributed the improved “right” direction, the “good” management of the economy, and “improved educational services” to ZANU PF’s role in the Inclusive Government. This is a paradoxical finding, given that MDC-T was responsible for fiscal control and MDC for education. This would support a view that the MDCs were not marketing themselves as effectively during the GPA as ZANU PF, and even provides support for the SPT thesis about a growing social base. But there was more to come.
On political fear, the study revealed a negative relationship between an interviewee’s expectations of violence and an intended vote for ZANU PF, and, more interestingly, that silencing opponents was more likely to make an interviewee vote against ZANU PF. Most interesting of all, the more likely an interviewee was to perceive the survey as government-sponsored, the more likely they were to express preference for ZANU PF. Furthermore, this last factor had the strongest effect on whether a person would come out openly in support of ZANU PF, and strongly suggests the operation of political fear.
However, Bratton and Masunungure then tease out the effects of people that perceive the survey to be government-sponsored and hence fearful of being honest. Through a slightly complicated analysis, they then conclude that the probable split of support for the various political parties in 2012 was MDC-T (49%), ZANU PF (45%), and all the others put together (7%). This was almost exactly, as they point out the split that obtained in the March 2008 poll, and, as they say, the analysis implies that, if voting intentions do not change, Zimbabwe can expect another close election in 2013.
If this had been the case, then Tsvangirai should have got 1.7 million votes and Mugabe 1.5 million, but actually Mugabe got 700,000 more votes against this supposed trend, and actually got 1.03 million more votes than he got in 2008, a more than 95.46% increase. But interestingly, Tsvangirai got pretty much the same number of votes as he got in 2008.
Well, opinion surveys certainly cannot argue against ballots in the box, all 3.4 million of them. But then Zimbabwe tends to disconfirm all the more general findings of political science, as we have pointed out before: clearly trends only mean things in countries other than Zimbabwe. However, given the support of analyses of the Voters’ Roll (especially in comparison with the census), it can be argued that the survey is likely to be more accurate than election result, and it still remains to explain the result on grounds more closely related to the process of the election itself.
In Zimbabwe, other trends seem to apply. Zimbabwe sees ZANU PF losing ground, regaining it through violent elections, and then being returned with two-thirds majorities in a subsequent “peaceful” election. 2013 marks the end a second such cycle in Zimbabwe: 2000 was fairly violent, 2002 was at least as violent as 2008, and 2005 was peaceful. Then we have the peaceful poll in March 2008, the horrors of June 2008, and the peaceful poll in July 2013. And obviously citizen’s opinions (and their votes) have very little to do with it. No wonder some commentators, like Dr Mandaza, wonder why we bother with elections: all they do is make a mockery of the best that political science can offer!
by Lloyd Pswarayi
Zimbabwe held its harmonised elections on the July 31st 2013, and ZANU PF attained an overwhelming majority in the House of Assembly, with its presidential candidate Robert Mugabe defeating MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai convincingly by amassing 61% of the total votes. This effectively marked the end of the Inclusive Government and ushered in a new mandate for ZANU PF to implement the policies contained in the party’s election manifesto. The 2013 elections were expected to address one of the fundamental problems of the Zimbabwe crisis – the crisis of legitimacy. However, there were more questions than answers concerning the outcome, and the MDCs have claimed that there was massive rigging. Notwithstanding the rigging allegations, the fact remains that ZANU PF is now in charge. ZANU PF was ‘voted’ for by the people and they claim that they derive their legitimacy from the outcome and not necessarily the process of the July 31 elections. The party and its apologists have successfully put a spin on election observer mission statements and added “fair, and credible” in describing the elections”, (Of course that is not true).
I argue here that the whole notion of “legitimacy’ is a debatable issue. In political science, “legitimacy usually is understood as the popular acceptance and recognition, by the public, of the authority of a governing régime, whereby authority has political power through consent and mutual understandings, not coercion”. Firstly, legitimacy is derived from a mandate given by the people willingly and readily to continuously surrender their power to the governing party. Legitimacy is therefore not a one day event, but it is something that has to be earned every day. Assuming that the process that led to the winning of elections was perfect and fit into the “free, fair, credible” description, policies to support the people that delivered this mandate will continuously justify the question of legitimacy.
I want to look at legitimacy from a food security perspective in Zimbabwe, given reports of possible starvation mostly in the rural areas. Reports point to the fact that nearly 2.2 million Zimbabweans currently face starvation. Government has assured the nation that no-one will starve and a deal has been struck to import maize from Zambia. This food security situation is worrying as it has become a trend that this country cannot feed its people and has to rely on food imports. This is especially unacceptable coming from the backdrop of a programme that saw nearly 350,000 families being allocated land in the year 2000 during the fast track land reform programme. But of course, failure of the process has however been squarely heaped on the MDC, sanctions and failure by the former Finance Minister to release funds to support the programme.
One of the key points in the ZANU PF election manifesto for the 2013 harmonised elections was adequate support to be given to farmers through finance schemes and the setting aside of $1billion for the sector. A government loses legitimacy when it cannot feed its people and rightly, people are bound to withdraw their support from it. In the new dispensation, addressing food security concerns is a fundamental problem that the ZANU PF government will face because there is no MDC to blame.
In my view, the government, and in particular, the Ministry of Agriculture, has not been serious about food security in this country. When a government cannot feed its people, surely it ceases to be relevant. If people are hungry, they may revolt against the system, and the only way for the system to contain this is would be to suppress its people through familiar tactics such as intimidation, violence, threats, targeting of perceived opinion makers such as teachers. The whole thing may end up messy with communities becoming unsafe to live in, and woman and children are directly violated. The real holders of power (the people) will demand change and this would be a legitimate call. From experiences in the past, ZANU PF has labelled this the “regime change agenda”.
Year in year out, there are reports of shortages of inputs, inputs stolen by chefs, inputs delivered late, and the results have not been surprising. The Minister of Finance, at his victory celebration party in Rusape recently pointed that government would supply agricultural inputs to 1.6 million families in Zimbabwe for the forthcoming season. These inputs include one bag of compound fertiliser, one bag of Ammonium Nitrate; 10kg bag of seed and “for the very first time”, a bag of agriculture lime. This may sound like ZANU PF means serious business, but this is a big joke and populist. It may only deliver hunger in 2014. This trick has been tried before multiple times and has produced nothing but disaster.
My advice to the Minister of Agriculture, VaMade is that his Ministry is very important and everything contained in the ZANU PF election manifesto hinges on ensuring food security. If this does not happen, unfortunately people (the real holders of power) will question why we need ZANU PF in government. They will even start talking about NIKUV this and NIKUV that and this would be undesirable talk that questions the party’s legitimacy to govern. I know you want to shame the West who have strongly criticised the land reform programme and the only way to do so is to ensure that all the silos owned by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) are filled with grain and we are exporting to the region because we have achieved excesses. How do we achieve that excess Honourable Minister? Firstly I think government should immediately abandon piece-meal policies by supporting small-holder farmers fully with six (6) bags of Compound D, eight (8) bags of Ammonium, 25kg of seed maize and full extension services. This costs money and this is money that is not available. But there is a solution Honourable Minister. Government should support 1.6 million people with sufficient inputs that are availed on time and indiscriminately. People from other political parties also deserve access to these inputs as well, regardless of their political affiliation. It should probably also be made compulsory that everyone who benefited from state land through the land reform programme grows at least a hectare of maize. Yes I said compulsory! If government could compulsorily acquire land, then it can also compulsorily enforce production because it is in the public interest.
Whilst government is still working on securing funds to finance this sector, some mechanism needs to be put in place to identify legitimate small scale farmers in every district that can fully benefit from the government input scheme to grow maize. In return, government could consider a ratio of say 40/60 with the farmers, where the farmers retain 40% of the maize and sell the remaining 60% to the GMB at competitive prices. Even those who may not have directly benefited from full support would benefit from a pricing regime that encourages maize production and timely payments. Imagine what sustaining this over the years and making sure there is optimal production on land would do in the long term.
By so doing, you will be departing from a culture of dependency where every year we have to rely on Western donors to feed our people. Isn’t they are the very same people you claim want to effect a regime change? When you address the food security issues, more energy and resources are channelled into other sectors of the economy and create jobs for the youth that find themselves selling airtime even with university degrees.
by Kudakwashe Chitsike
Dear Mr President,
I read with concern an article in one of the newspapers, which reported that you defended your decision to appoint only three women to Cabinet by saying that Zimbabwean women are uneducated and do not have the intellectual capacity to take up office. The newspaper quoted you directly as having said the following: “Give us the women. This time we did proportional representation; there were just not enough women. Women are few in universities.” Is this really true, Mr President? I have always regarded you as a progressive man, and I am having a hard time believing that these were your words. Perhaps the media misunderstood you, or just deliberately misconstrued your statement. The private media is very mischievous, isn’t it?
You have been the president, and therefore boss of this country for more than 30 years, overseeing everything that happens in your government. How is it possible that 52% of your population is still not educated enough to take Cabinet posts? There are other important things I could raise, that seem to have also escaped your attention, but that is a letter I will write on another day. I hope that now that you have noticed this challenge, you are going to do something over the next five years to turn around the education system and ensure that there will be more women in the next Cabinet. Such a positive outcome is something we would look forward to in 2018!
I am a product of the education system that you inherited from the British when you took over the reigns in 1980. Kudos to you for maintaining the system for years, you really did your best. I stand proudly as a Zimbabwean wherever I go because I know I can hold my own in my chosen field, thanks to this system. Most Zimbabwean women in my circles are educated, holders of Masters degrees and even PhDs. Is this still not good enough for the Cabinet? Zimbabweans are finding jobs all over the world because they are well educated. A few months ago, you rightly pointed out that Zimbabweans are running the South African economy. A good number of Zimbabweans working in illustrious jobs in that country are women. If they are good enough to be scooped up by vibrant economies, why not our Cabinet?
The University of Zimbabwe – the oldest higher learning institution in this country – is churning out more women than men and has been for quite some time. None from there were suitable? We as Zimbabweans have always prided ourselves in our education, this year we were rated as having a literacy rate of more than 90%. Unfortunately this percent was not gender disaggregated. Had it been, then that would have been something I would draw your attention to.
Could it be that, Mr President, you meant to say that women in your party are the uneducated ones, since you were only looking within the party for these posts? If that is the case, then I understand. You were clearly stuck between a rock and a hard place. Your desire must have been to have a number of competent women in the Cabinet not only to adhere to the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development ratified by the 7th Parliament in October 2009, but also so that Zimbabwe achieves the gender equality enshrined in our constitution. I understand if you say that in your party, there were just not enough competent female candidates. What could you do but select the best of the lot? You only managed to find 3.
Isn’t it also interesting that the issue of quality and level of education arises only when it comes to filling certain positions with women? What about the qualities and qualifications of the men in your Cabinet? Did they all go to university? What kind of men are they? What exactly was your selection criterion for Cabinet? It took you more than 40 days to come up with the list, so I assume it must have been a rigorous exercise. Were the candidates selected because of their qualities, or on the basis of them being loyal to you and/or the party? One of these days I will sit and go through each of their profiles, maybe the answers will come from there.
I look forward to your response Mr President.
Sexual violence is seldom about the sexual act itself but about power and humiliation regardless of whether it is performed against a woman or a man. It is acknowledged, but not well documented, that men suffer from sexual violence perpetrated by other men during conflict, be in armed conflict or low level political conflict as the Zimbabwe context.
Men and boys are reluctant to report sexual violence because of the stigma associated with it that makes it very difficult to accurately assess its scope, but, despite these challenges, a small study was undertaken to establish whether there are cases of politically motivated sexual violence in Zimbabwe, particularly in the last 12 years. This report is based on the results of this study, which was done through the administration of a questionnaire prepared by RAU.
The study revealed interesting findings some of which are detailed below:
· Men were uncomfortable and unwilling to speak about their own experiences with sexual violence, but more open when asked whether their wives were victims and the consequences of this;
· Only one man admitted to being a perpetrator of sexual violence; he stated that he held down a victim while others raped her;
· Almost all stated that women are affected differently by violence because of the physical differences of the sexes; men are much stronger than women and can withstand the violence;
· They stated that sodomy, forced to have sexual intercourse either with a woman or another man, forced to gang rape women, having their genitalia touched, forced to strip in public and any indecent sexual act without consent were all forms of sexual violence than men can suffer;
· The violence occurred either at a base or at home in front of other people.
· Further research needs to be done on politically motivated sexual violence focusing on both male and female victims, looking at the prevalence and the effects.
· Protection mechanisms need to be set up for victims of sexual violence to enable them to receive treatment and counseling in safe spaces.
For the full report please go to our website: www.researchandadvocacyunit.org
Today the Research and Advocacy Unit [RAU] launches a preliminary report on an audit conducted on the June 2013 Voters’ Roll. The audit was done initially at the request of MDC-T, but RAU has done the audit on the understanding that its analysis would be wholly professional and independent of any political party affiliation or consideration. RAU carried out a previous audit of the 2008 Voters’ Roll in 2009 – 2013 Vision – Seeing Double and the Dead. A preliminary Audit of Zimbabwe’s Voters’ Roll.
Embargoed copies of this preliminary report have been given to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), with a request that the Commission makes this report available to all registered political parties contesting the forthcoming elections. This was done in an effort to assist the Commission, and all interested parties, in establishing the conditions for an election that conforms to the SADC Principles and Guidelines for the Holding of Democratic Elections, one of the conditions suggested by the SADC Facilitator as necessary for Zimbabwe to fully comply with the Global Political Agreement that SADC agreed to guarantee.
This preliminary report, however, raises very serious matters to be considered ahead of the elections, now to be held on 31st July, and, in short, suggests that there are serious shortcomings with the current Voters’ Roll. RAU will, in due course, issue a second, more comprehensive report on the June 2013 Voters’ Roll, and will hope to undertake a further analysis of the final version of the Voters’ Roll to be used in the forthcoming elections.
In brief, today’s report indicates the following:
· Comparing the June 2013 Voters’ Roll with the 2012 Census, there are 63 Constituencies where there are more registered voters than inhabitants;
· There are currently nearly 1 million potential voters aged under 30 years who are unregistered, but this may change in the aftermath of the intensive voter registration exercise;
· There are well over 1 million people on the roll who are either deceased or departed;
· That 40 Constituencies deviate from the average number of voters per constituency by more than the permitted 20%.
Copies of the full report can be obtained from the RAU website [www.researchandadvocacyunit.org].