FOUR candidates, including President Mugabe, will contest next month’s
presidential election after they successfully filed their papers at the
Nomination Court sitting at Mashonganyika Building in Harare.
An equal number of aspirants had their papers rejected for different
MDC faction leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, independents Dr Simba Makoni
and Mr Langton Towungana will challenge President Mugabe in the March 29
election, to be held jointly with parliamentary and council polls.
Those disqualified were Mr Daniel Shumba of the United People’s Party,
Mr Abel Ndlovu of Peace Action Freedom for All, Mr William Gwata of the
Christian Democratic Party, who is famous for the gwatamatic sadza
cooker, and Advocate Justin Chihota.
The nomination officer, Mr Ignatius Mushangwe, announced the results at
the close of the sitting.
Both Mr Shumba and Adv Chihota were disqualified for missing the
They arrived at 4:30pm and 4:10pm respectively.
The Nomination Court sat from 10am to 4pm.
Mr Gwata and Mr Ndlovu were ruled ineligible because their papers were
not in order.
Zanu-PF secretary for legal affairs Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa filed
President Mugabe’s papers while MDC faction spokesperson Mr Nelson
Chamisa and chief of staff Mr Chris Mbanga presented Mr Tsvangirai’s
Dr Makoni, who was accompanied by his wife Chipo, personally filed his
Briefing journalists soon after filing Cde Mugabe’s papers, Cde
Mnangagwa said the President would win resoundingly.
"I feel absolutely high and I am satisfied. We have been organising for
the elections for the last year or so restructuring the party and there
is enthusiasm in the countryside and even in urban areas," he said.
Cde Mnangagwa said people would vote for Zanu-PF because it was a tried
and tested party and the "the road walked by Zanu-PF can be traced".
Dr Makoni, who denied reports that he was in alliance with the Professor
Arthur Mutambara MDC faction or any other party, said he was confident
"I am not in alliance with anyone. I am an independent candidate
standing on my own," he said.
However, the Mutambara faction spokesman, Mr Gabriel Chaibva, yesterday
said Prof Mutambara had not filed his nomination papers for the
presidency because they were supporting Dr Makoni under the so-called
Addressing journalists at a Press conference at a Harare hotel, Prof
Mutambara also announced that he had pulled out of the presidential race
to support Dr Makoni.
He has opted to stand in the Zengeza West House of Assembly
The Mutambara faction also pledged to support independent candidates
contesting the Senate and House of Assembly constituencies under Dr
Mr Chaibva said the move did not mean that the Mutambara-led MDC would
not field its own candidates in the parliamentary elections.
Mr Chamisa told journalists after filing Mr Tsvangirai’s papers that the
faction was ready for the election. "It is a very clear contest. We are
going to show and give Zimbabweans the alternative to choose us," he
Mr Shumba caused a stir when his nomination papers were rejected but
insisted that the court accept them.
He claimed an accident that occurred in the Midlands area where two
people died as he was driving to Harare had caused his late arrival.
Mr Shumba said his lawyer had contacted Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
officials informing them that he would be delayed because of the
accident and alleged that the Nomination Court had given him the
permission to file the papers before 6pm.
"We demand that my papers be accepted. This is a very serious issue. You
cannot deny Zimbabweans the right to choose me as president," he said.
But Mr Mushangwe denied there was any communication between ZEC
officials and Mr Shumba’s lawyer. He challenged Mr Shumba to bring the
lawyer to the Nomination Court, but he failed to do so.
Mr Shumba then stormed out of the court, threatening to take legal
Let’s campaign, vote peacefully
THE constituencies have all been delimited: 210 for the Lower House, 60
for the Upper House, along with 2 000 wards in both urban and rural
councils and these along with the biggest prize of them all — the
national presidency — are up for grabs.
There are only 43 days left to the polls and as can be seen from the
foregoing, the ground to be covered is vast. Now that the nomination
courts have sat throughout the country, from this day till March 29, let
the battlefield be for ideas, not clubs and catapults.
Let us take this opportunity to congratulate all those who successfully
filed their nomination papers. The voters who nominated them and many
others who support their bids expect nothing but mature campaigns where
the only combat will be for ideas.
To those who did not succeed, there is always next time, but let’s learn
from the mistakes that hindered us this time around.
Our message to all contestants and their backers is the same: elections
are contests that can give us one of three possible outcomes: a win, a
loss or a stalemate. They are not zero-sum games where victory should be
ours at all costs.
By filing papers yesterday, every candidate put his/herself up for one
of these three possible outcomes, and at the end of it all let’s respect
the judgment the electorate hands us.
The chaos in Kenya, where over a thousand people have lost their lives
and over 600 000 others displaced in post-poll violence since December
27, should caution us against inciting violence.
Equally unacceptable is the tendency by some, particularly in
opposition, to stoke tribal tensions in the hope of garnering cheap
votes. Let us put ourselves up for election or rejection on the strength
of the ideas we bring to the electorate.
To this end, we salute all political leaders who have hitherto called
for peaceful campaigning; this should be the
guiding principle for every party and/or candidate. Better still, let it
be the opening statement at any rally or meeting with supporters.
The forthcoming election, the 10th over the past 28 years, gives us
every reason to celebrate our rich democratic tradition that gives
people the chance to choose their leaders time and time again.
The poll is not only unique for bringing fundamental changes to the
composition of the legislature by increasing its size, but by
consolidating our country’s democratic tradition.
To put things into perspective, very few African countries, some that
have been independent since the 1960s, have held as many suffrages as we
have. Most had their first multiparty elections during the neo-liberal
decade 1990 to 2000, only because multilateral lending institutions made
it a pre-condition for balance of payments support and aid.
While many others had leaders obtain power through bloody coups, we
Zimbabweans laid down our guns soon after driving out settler regimes
and celebrate that tradition of electing leaders through multi-party
We, therefore, urge the police to be on high alert to deal decisively
with any trouble causers. The world will be watching us and let’s not
forget there are many in the Western hemisphere ready to scream blue
murder at the drop of a hat.
Let’s put them all to shame by maturely and peacefully exercising our
democratic right to elect leaders of our choice, the way we have always
done since March 1980.
Zanu-PF: The threat of second détente
What threatens Zanu-PF is not a divided vote. What threatens it is
divided attention. Last week I made the point that Simba Makoni is a
political minor who personifies a monumental miscalculation on the part
of his outside handlers.
The little vote he will carry will come from both factions of the MDC.
It will leave Zanu-PF’s power base untouched, undisturbed. This is
before the Zanu-PF juggernaut starts rattling and buffeting his thing.
As I write, the chiefs in Manicaland — Chief Makoni included — are up in
They do not like what Simba has done, with Chief Makoni threatening to
revert to the historically resonant name of Chingaira, in order to
distance himself from this misshapen shura mugura, one which threatens
to taint his family’s proud record in national struggles.
Indeed, it is this rejection from the rural power base which accounts
for senseless pronouncements from some officials within the same
province, all along known to have worked with Makoni. Pronouncements
such as announcing the suspension of the renegade politician well after
the Politburo has already expelled him. How do you suspend a man whose
expulsion has already been formalised? It is a measurement of the level
of panic within the group.
Even the alliance between Makoni and Mutambara already mooted lacks the
basic ingredients to make a strong alloy. In leading a breakaway from
Morgan Tsvangirai in October 2005, Welshman Ncube always knew he needed
the symbolic visibility of a figure from Mashonaland, in order to escape
charges of leading a tribal formation. He settled on Mutambara because
politically better characters would not oblige his invitation. We wrote
Makoni’s name was briefly mentioned. Mutambara was not Welshman’s first
choice. Nor did subsequent political praxis graduate him into one such,
to this day. He is a president who is a failure they endure, a
"president" who underlines the absence and need for one.
The faction has failed to grow a presidential candidate. From that
viewpoint, there would be nothing extraordinary in Welshman jettisoning
the dour Mutambara for Makoni’s "nice face" (Eddie Cross’s phrase).
The collapsed talks with Tsvangirai which would have hidden his lack of
a candidate through the one-candidate has made alliance with Simba
unavoidable. Let history record this fact correctly. Simba Makoni cannot
tout this as testimony to his enlarging influence in the national
body-politic. He has not united anyone, anything.
He has joined; been recruited to a formation that needs his symbolism.
He is not real, in other words. He validates Zanu-PF’s charge that he
was always in Zanu-PF without being of it, or always in MDC without
joining it. At the end of the poll, the inevitable lesson will be that
Welshman’s search continues.
When the groom notices another bride
Reading Makoni’s press conferences, his sparse manifesto, and Mhanda’s
piece with Violet Gonda, it is clear pressure has registered too soon on
Its reluctance to concretise its break-away — if one it is — by way of
an outright launch of a party, strongly suggests the unsure. It also
confirmed last minute doubts and even differences with its big-wigged
godfathers who cautioned for a delay.
In retrospect, even Makoni himself admits it was quite a dull theory to
proceed on the premises that giving a face to sparse internal opposition
to President Mugabe, would embolden and crystallise dissent for the much
hoped for snowballing effect.
He is shrinking quite fast, bitterly learning politics is not quite easy
theory in the work-a-day world. Most probably he will have a few
individuals scattered here and there — represented by the likes of
Kindness Paradza — all of them counting for nothing beyond their own
He will have lots of goodwill from the boardroom, itself a place of
damaging hyper-caution at a moment demanding choice and action. That
cannot be a worrisome rupture to Zanu-PF.
The irony of it all, one which must be quite painful to Simba, is the
fact that his announcement has got half cheers from traditionally
anti-Zanu-PF quarters, thus bringing to the fore the fact that his
western backers may very well have fragmented the opposition, which
means enhancing Zanu-PF’s already bright prospects. Which is probably
why Tsvangirai is quite angry with Makoni, dismissing him as "old wine
in new bottles". Of course that is an inaccuracy.
He has never been wine, let alone an aged and therefore tastier one. He
is bitter water from the English Channel, a British concoction that will
not heal. Tsvangirai feels betrayed that the suitor’s eye has been
caught by more extravagant coquetry, away from the old bride.
The statements of endorsement from the other Brown, himself a former
Rhodesian would have infuriated any within the pantheon of traitors.
By any tool, by any personality
It should not be lost upon those in Zanu-PF that the British do not
quite care about the colour of the cat for as long as it catches the
Historically, they sought to turn the pre-October 2005 MDC into that
mouse, until it proved it could not do the job. With the split, it also
became obvious to them that numerical many did not mean more
The MDC formations became even more effete as pawns in this historical
game against President Mugabe and his party. Let it not be forgotten
that in 1979/80, a number of combinations had been configured, again by
the same force to ensure Zanu-PF would not form the first government.
The likes of Mhanda and others whom the British had insisted had to be
freed from detention dungeons in Mozambique, and sent home ahead of
Zanu-PF, know this story very well. Many joined many internal settlement
formations in the hope of causing the badly wanted upset.
They failed, which is why there is nothing new in what Dzinashe
Machingura seeks to do with Makoni, another face of the British project.
This column carried a nuanced record of how the Anglo-American factor
has been revising its regime change premises in the last five or so
years, in order to nurse internal contradictions within Zanu-PF.
It is significant that Makoni is not uniting with Morgan Tsvangirai.
That is how the British have now configured their latest stratagem.
Personalities do not quite matter at all other levels, except that of
the target, in this case the President.
Most probably the British know that none within the lot there are
working with can govern this country. Most certainly the British know
that a good many of them lack even the most elementary integrity to give
a leadership of basic rectitude.
But they need to use them hopefully to bludgeon Mugabe and his
Back to politics of détente
I say Zanu-PF, please beware! Zanu-PF is in mortal danger of not
realising soon enough that we are back to the politics of the early
seventies, politics of détente.
The parallels could not have been more striking: a backdrop of unity
talks; an attempted assault on the fabric of its ideas, leading to
self-doubt and even a questioning of its chosen method of liberating the
country; creation of a false leadership through war-emblazoned
personages to lend legitimacy to the project and, above all, a strong
hand of imperialism organising all this confusion in order to decapitate
the liberation project.
The devastating manifestation of politics of the détente is always
confusion over who the real enemy is, creation of false goals, false
methodologies, leading to false struggles.
Alfred Mhanda knows what I am writing about, and must be noting the
irony that history has harpooned him back into the whirlpool of
Zimbabwe’s second détente, so well personified by Simba Makoni.
As before, everything is triggered by intellectual arrogance and
vaulting ambition, both leading to rebellion against the command. And
this is where my point comes: while dealing with potentially
antagonistic contradictions created internally by the détente, focus
must remain on the principal contradiction.
Little, inconsequential fronts should not weaken focus on the principal
contradiction. I reject any politics in Zanu-PF which seek to lionise
Simba Makoni and his henchmen. They are not principal actors. I
emphasise the British-led Western
factor which has conceived the détente whose marketing sleeve is Simba
Makoni and his ilk.
The British hand
Makoni’s hurried notes that pretend to be a manifesto betray the British
hand. It suggests land reforms are still underway and stresses should be
done in a way that helps turn around the economy.
On surface, it sounds laudable, innocent. Beneath, it carries a very
sinister subtext that allows for land reform reversals, in a way that
gives land back to white farmers.
As I said last week, this is one area Makoni differed with the rest of
Government. This will be the thin end of the wedge which will allow
massive reversals on that foundational front. One other sentence
promises to re-engage the "international community", itself a euphemism
for British-led alliance of anti-liberation westerners. The point is
made palatable by claims of re-engaging Zimbabweans in their various
In combination, both points get you to the pith of what the British
want, which Makoni promises to deliver.
The tactic is to lure voters through melodramatic descriptions of
present hardships, ironically caused by the very same quarters he wants
to speedily re-engage. He seeks to mobilise around consequences which he
has turned to causes.
That way President Mugabe becomes the evilest part of the piece, the
British the solution. It is thus not difficult to see where the détente
politics are taking us. The issue is, does Zanu-PF correctly read this
strategy to adequately countermand it? Food for thought. Icho!