Sunday, March 17, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Biti accuses Zanu PF of intimidation

Biti accuses Zanu PF of intimidation
17/03/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter I Agencies

ZIMBABWE’S longtime political rivals came together to vote 'Yes' in a referendum to accept a new constitution Saturday, but the rare consensus does not guarantee an end to political violence and intimidation ahead of crucial elections later this year, the prime minister's party said.

Constitutional reform was a key demand of regional leaders mediating in the southern African nation's decade-long political and economic crisis. Reform was also a requirement for fresh elections to end a shaky and acrimonious coalition they brokered after the last violent and disputed national polls in 2008.

The new constitution allows for more democratic reforms that would curb long entrenched presidential powers and punish perpetrators of human rights violations.

However, Tendai Biti, the third ranking official in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party, said Saturday that political intimidation continued into the vote.

Biti said the arrest of a senior provincial official for the Movement for Democratic Change party by President Robert Mugabe's loyalist police on Saturday, casts doubt on the prospect of free and fair elections slated for around July.

Sampson Magunise, the party official in Headlands, was seized by four armed police before referendum polling stations opened in the morning across the country. No reasons for his arrest were given.
"This is illegal and unacceptable but it is typical of the environment we are living in," Biti said.

Magunise's arrest followed attacks on four party's supporters putting up referendum posters in Kariba and scuffles between rival youth groups in Harare and Bulawayo on Friday.

Past elections
Past elections have been marred by violence and alleged vote rigging blamed mostly on Mugabe's Zanu PF party.

Both President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai said they voted 'Yes' Saturday after all main party leaders called for the 170-page draft constitution to be adopted.

"We will celebrate a 'Yes' vote but we cannot accept intimidation of any of our members and then declare an election to be credible," Biti said.

Biti said regional polling observers will likely report Saturday's vote as acceptable compared to "low standards of behavior" expected of Zimbabweans seen at previous polls.

"We can't accept mediocrity when it comes to elections that wouldn't be tolerated in other countries" during polling, he said.
He also claimed Zanu PF officials had campaigned for a ‘No’ vote in the Midlands province.

“We have some Zanu PF officials campaigning for a NO vote in the Midlands Province though the three political parties agreed to campaign for a YES vote but because of factionalism in Zanu PF some are campaigning for a NO vote in the Midlands province and have been intimidation voters” he said.

Mugabe said he voted 'Yes' to the home-grown constitution to show how Zimbabwe mapped out its own future without outside interference.
"It gives us the right to determine together which way to govern ourselves," he said.

Mugabe, 89, who led the nation to independence from Britain in 1980, has repeatedly accused Western governments of supporting efforts to oust him.

Mugabe, who voted at a school in western Harare with his wife Grace and his daughter Bona, 22, said he wanted peace in all polling.
Turning point

"Those who want to fight are allowed to if they are boxers or wrestlers, but to go about beating people in the streets, that's not allowed," he said.

Tsvangirai, 61, said a 'Yes' vote marked a new turning point "and one of the most important historical steps" for the country after years of political and economic turmoil. He said it paved the way for a new chapter of the rule of law.

His supporters who have been killed in political violence over the past decade "will rest in peace because this is the most important stage we have been fighting for," Tsvangirai said. "I hope everyone will exercise their vote as a preliminary step to free and fair elections."

Officials said polling was busy in populous districts, and small knots of voters turned out early in remote areas and less populated or wealthier suburbs.

The voting day was announced exactly a month ago, and critics say voters were not given enough time to study the constitutional proposals in detail. About 9,400 voting stations were set up and 12 million ballot papers have been printed. Results are expected within five days.

Abigail Punungwe, a young mother with a baby on her back in a line at one voting station in Harare, said she hadn't read the 170-page draft constitution "but everyone is saying we must vote for it."

Elections monitors say printed copies were woefully inadequate in the two main local languages. Many rural Zimbabweans don't speak or read English. Monitors also pointed to only 200 braille copies being produced for the country's 40,000 blind people.

Cumbersome voters' lists were not used. The country has 6.6 million registered voters, but on Saturday all Zimbabweans over the age of 18 carrying a valid identification document were able to vote during more than 12 hours of polling.

Polling stations using indelible finger ink on the hands of those who have already voted will stay open later into the evening if voters are still in line at the closing time.

Presidential powers

Voting lines over 200 meters long in Harare had tapered off by Saturday afternoon.
Munganyi Nyarai, a polling officer in Mbare, said more young people voted early at her post than in usual elections.

The draft constitution reduces presidential powers to pass authoritarian decrees and paves the way for a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission on past violence and human rights violations.

It also strengthens the bill of rights to protect all Zimbabweans from "torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment" that would be enforced by a new Constitutional Court with powers above the main existing highest court of appeal, the Supreme Court.

In urging supporters to vote 'Yes,' Mugabe's party says the draft recognizes as irreversible the seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms which have since 2000 been handed over to blacks.

Black empowerment programs and the taking of control of foreign-owned mines and businesses by locals would also be irreversible.

Zanu PF says the draft honors fighters who ended colonial rule after a seven-year bush war with white-led troops of the former colony of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before independence in 1980.

Small groups who have campaigned for a 'No' vote say the referendum is a compromise that doesn't meet the aspirations for change of ordinary Zimbabweans.

"The constitution has been taken over by politicians and doesn't reflect the true wishes of the people. It is a betrayal of generations to come," said voter Philimon Jambaya, 23.

COMMENTS
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mycountrygotlickedinfourwars

Almost all Zimbabweans can read or speak english.Whats the nonsense about Zimbabweans not reading or speaking english.
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Zhiii

You obviously have not been in Zim for a long long time, there are lot of university graduates who can read but have idea of the meaning of legal terminology that the constitution is crafted in. That includes Didymus Mutasa, Tsvangirai and you.
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jongwe

Cry me a river Biti.Pasi nevane ngoromera.But Biti avakunge chimbwa mupengo.Nobody is going take you seriously if you cry wolf all the time.Honestly you just being a b*tch.Thats war mongering.You really rooting for violence.
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Zhiii

The Bill of Rights is of no help to anyone when the judiciary is clearly partisan and knows no justice and the police are an extension of ZANU and know no law. We have yet to leave the jungle of dictatorship. God help Zimbabwe.
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Nkoko365

it is clear by jungle of dictatorship you mean african liberation fathers are bhobhojans
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muchadura

Not a surprise at all that zanu-pf in Midlands campaigned for a no vote to the referendum.
Emmerson munangagwa is behind all that and must be shitting in his pants now.gukurahundi architect,the new incoming constitution won't provide immunity for past crimes..lol.
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RudeChikala

What is no surprise is what you are saying. A storm in an imaginary tea-cup
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RudeChikala

No one dances to a broken record which gets stuck repeating the same rubbish.
As time goes by, all this daily nonsense will be ignored as some of us already do.
I used to worry each time i saw headlines like this but now that almost all of them turned out to be exaggerations, i dont see them the same way now.
Even this latest alleged abduction by armed men will turn out to be someone arrested by uniformed police for a crime he probably committed. Each time this clown opens his mouth, he talks bullfart.
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Nkoko365

in short jongwe ari kuti BITI ari kusura zvake
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bodo_kwete

To be honest how many of you KNOW what is in that constitution? Even the Lancaster papers. How many of you KNOW what is in there? Alll you know are Party slogans

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