Monday, July 22, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE, BLOOMBERG) Little chance of Tsvangirai poll upset: Booysen
10/07/2013 00:00:00
by Bloomberg

FIVE years ago Morgan Tsvangirai was led the presidential vote and appeared set to end President Robert Mugabe’s lengthy stay in power before violence cut short the balloting. With new elections due July 31, the MDC-T leader appears ever further from his goal. While Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party has been in government for the past four years, helping turnaround an economy that was in free fall, Mugabe, 89, wields the power with the police and military.

The voters’ roll is filled with as many as a million people who are dead or have disappeared, and 29 percent of those 18 to 30 years of age aren’t registered, according to the independent Research and Advocacy Unit.

Tsvangirai, 61, wanted the election delayed. His party says the country’s election machinery isn’t prepared to hold a vote and Mugabe’s Zanu PF controls the state media. He quit the 2008 runoff election because of violence against his supporters.

“The MDC has little chance of victory on two main grounds: the lack of preparedness and the voters’ roll, which really can, it seems, be used for manipulation,” Susan Booysen, an analyst with the University of Witwatersrand, said from Johannesburg, Wednesday.
“There is also the threat of violence at Zanu PF’s disposal, whether violence is used or not.”

Booysen supervised a 2012 Freedom House survey which showed that support for the MDC-T had has fallen from 38 percent in 2010 to 20 percent this year. By contrast, backing for Zanu PF grew to 31 percent from 17 percent, over the same period.

The survey found that Mugabe would command the support of 31 percent of voters in a presidential election, compared to 19 percent for Tsvangirai whose popularity stood at a healthy 55 percent some four years back.

“Perhaps they think they are crown prince that need only wait for Mugabe to go for it to fall in their lap. This is a wake-up call for them that there is no honeymoon,” Booysen said at the time.

Economic Success
The MDC however points to its role in salvaging the economy since joining the coalition government.

Following Mugabe’s decision to seize mainly white-owned farms starting in 2000, food production and exports plummeted, and inflation soared to as high as 500 billion percent, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Gross domestic product shrank 39 percent in dollar terms between 2000 and 2008, the Washington-based lender’s data shows.

During the same years, Tsvangirai and Mugabe fought four elections, all of them marred by violence and electoral irregularities, according to observers including the European Union.

Regional neighbours in the 15-nation SADC grouping brokered a 2009 power-sharing agreement between the main political parties after it ruled presidential and parliamentary elections the previous year were void.

Violence before and after the vote led to the deaths of about 200 MDC supporters, according to Tsvangirai.

The coalition government, in which the MDC controlled most economic ministries, turned the economy around.

Multi-currency economy

The Zimbabwe dollar was established and replaced by a multi-currency economy, using mainly the US dollar and South African rand.

The measure reduced inflation to single digits, where it remains today, and saw empty supermarket shelves being restocked. The economy has grown every year since 2009, with the IMF predicting a 5 percent expansion this year.

“What people forget is that the shops were literally empty,” George Chofamba, a roadside shopkeeper in Harare’s Zengeza suburb, said July 8. “Now the shops have everything and it is because Mugabe doesn’t control the country’s money.”

That's an opinion, and a wrong one. Actually it was the ZANU-PF which came up with the multi-currency plan. The 'do nothing' 'free trade' neoliberal MDC just implemented it. - MrK

Zimbabwe has the world’s second-largest reserves of platinum and chrome after neighbouring South Africa and significant gold, coal, diamond and iron-ore deposits, which attracted investment from companies such as Anglo Platinum, Impala Platinum Holdings and Rio Tinto Group. Agricultural exports included tobacco, corn, soy, coffee, tea, fruit and vegetables.

The US was behind the attempt to keep Zimbabwe from selling it's diamonds, through attempted manipulation of the Kimberley Process of diamond certification, an attempt blocked by Russia and China. Also, the article, of course, doesn't mention other economic sanctions like ZDERA. - MrK

Media Control

The obstacles facing the MDC in the election include Zanu PF’s grip on the state broadcaster, ZBC. It demanded $165,000 to provide live coverage of the MDC’s election manifesto unveiling two days after broadcasting President Mugabe’s election campaign kick-off. The MDC declined to pay, according to spokesman Nelson Chamisa.

“It’s a matter of record that there are problems that militate against free and fair elections,” former Finance Minister Simba Makoni, who’s backing Tsvangirai, said in an interview with Johannesburg’s PowerFM radio station yesterday.

“We fear the spectre of violence and intimidation. There is an uneven playing field in the media sector.”

When Zanu PF held its primaries on June 25, Zimbabwe’s police officiated and the party commandeered schools across the country. Education Minister David Coltart, a senator and founder member of a faction of the MDC, called the action illegal.

Zimbabwe must still raise $130 million to pay for the election, Biti said yesterday.
Mugabe Supporters

The MDC-T is “doomed by its failure to end police support for Zanu PF,” said Valentia Kaseke, a security guard in Harare’s northern Emerald Hill suburb. “All they can do is wait for Mugabe to die and then Zanu PF will be in disarray.”

Mugabe and his party still have their supporters who credit them with bringing independence to Zimbabwe in 1980 after a guerrilla war forced the white-minority government of Rhodesia to negotiate a settlement.

“Zanu PF will win the election because it is the people’s revolutionary party, it made Zimbabwe from scratch. Zanu PF is Zimbabwe,” Farai Hove, a small-scale farmer from Ruwa.
“People can’t vote for the MDC. It’s foreign.”

In some cases, the MDC has proved its own worst enemy. Allegations of corruption against MDC-T officials in three constituencies, Harare, Chitungwiza and Bindura, may hamper the party’s election prospects, even though Tsvangirai, a former labour union leader, fired officials named in an internal party report, Booysen said.
Moral ground

“The MDC-T lost moral ground in urban areas and its other constituencies and they’re no longer able to say they will win an election provided it’s free and fair,” she said.

The MDC wants to inspect the country’s voters’ roll, which it says is being manipulated by the registrar general’s office. Zimbabwe’s registrar general, Tobaiwa Mudede, denied the accusation.
“The voters’ roll is open to inspection by the MDC, there are no secrets,” he said by phone from Harare July 8.
The run-up to Zimbabwe’s ballot has left people wary and scared, said Julius Nyikadzino, a pharmaceutical salesman.

“We’re dysfunctional, afflicted by post-traumatic stress disorder after the last 13 years of violence, poverty and uncertainty,” he said in an interview.

“Everyone who doesn’t benefit from Zanu PF’s looting knows how to vote, but everyone knows the likelihood of rigging is actually a certainty. It’s just the degree of rigging that counts.”

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