Zimbabwe Elections: What If There Had Been No Rigging?

By Jos Martens

Since the first preliminary results of Zimbabwe’s 31 July 2013 harmonised elections emerged, most talk has been about whether or not the elections were free, fair and credible, with the main bone of contention being the rigging of the voters roll. Little has been said about the voting behaviour of the Zimbabweans per se, why – apart from the rigging – still so many voted for ZANU-PF and 89 year old Robert Mugabe, who has been President since 1980.[1]

A few days after the elections I spoke to an in-law who is a committed communal farmer in Eastern Zimbabwe. Like so many others she carries a ZANU membership card although she is a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporter. She was equally surprised about ZANU-PF’s landslide victory, as were the other people in her village: “So many of us said, we want change, we want change”, she wondered, referring to “Chinja Maitiro”, MDC’s rallying cry. When asked why people were still supporting MDC, she answered: “People really hate [President Robert] Mugabe. We all know that Morgan Tsvangirai (the Prime Minister since 2009) is friends with the Americans and they can help us. Mugabe is with the Chinese and these people are very cruel; they also did not re-open the companies that were closed. We also want the British to come back, not as rulers, but they do work hard. Many people who got plots of land are not working it; what can you do if you only have a hoe? They could assist there. Maybe they can open businesses again; we want our children to get employment. In the olden days life was hard but it was cheaper too. I was not afraid to vote the way I wanted. You are alone in the ballot box so why should I be afraid? ”

Of course one person is not representative of the whole population. For example, this in-law lives in a village where there wasn’t much violence during the 2008 elections. Rainfall in the area is generally good and farmers use artificial fertiliser and commercial seed whenever they can get it. Many also receive remittances from their children working abroad, mostly in South Africa but also in Britain. But even this short conversation shows that people’s voting behaviour was largely directed by one main concern: their wish to improve their lives: more income, lower prices, employment, support services, safety…
WHY DID MDC LOSE POPULARITY?

Nobody expected this monstrous victory for Mugabe-ZANU-PF, but virtually everyone I spoke to in the past year expressed their doubts whether Tsvangirai would make it in the upcoming elections. Their feelings were that MDC had made too many blunders in the past 5 years, while ZANU-PF and Mugabe had been working tirelessly and cunningly to regain lost ground.

The 2008 elections had been a massive protest vote against the total economic collapse under ZANU-PF rule, so much so that it could not even be suppressed by the massive violence unleashed by the ruling party. Mugabe ended up with his back against the wall and only survived by grasping the straw of the GNU (Government of National Unity). However, only four years later in 2012, the Washington-based Freedom House, not a friend of ZANU-PF, published the results of a survey showing that among “survey participants who agreed to state their political choice, trust in MDC-T, in particular, dropped from 66% to 39%, while trust in ZANU PF rose from 36% to 52%” [2].

Which factors contributed towards this turnabout? What were the main events that common Zimbabweans have seen unfolding over the past 5 years and that changed the minds of so many?
MDC LEGISLATORS ENRICH THEMSELVES …

Once they tasted the comfort of parliamentary seats and its emoluments, many MDC politicians quickly forgot by whom and why they had been elected and, instead of making a serious effort to change things, they occupied themselves with enjoying their turn to eat the cake. While a 2012 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report stated that “65% of Zimbabwe’s current MPs require intensive training in legislation and budget analysis as they are not skilled and competent to perform their tasks”, the MPs turned out to be very capable of looking after their own interests. Among other conditions, they each demanded and received a U$ 1.400 base monthly salary, a write-off of their U$ 30.000 car loans and a once-off U$ 15.000 sitting allowance bonus. In May 2012 MPs demanded residential stands at subsidised prices in “respectable suburbs”, thereby literally revealing how much they had distanced themselves from their constituencies. A major bone of contention in the 2013 parliamentary discussions about the new constitution was the height of the daily allowances MPs were to receive during the consultation process. Of course in these matters ZANU MPs behaved similarly, but hadn’t the MDC promised to do away with such practices?
… WHEREAS THE ELECTORATE REELS UNDER AUSTERITY MEASURES…

After initial relief with the introduction of the US-dollar in June 2009 that stopped Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation [3] overnight, the economy failed to recover and grow as quickly as expected by many people [4], leaving little room for improvement. While MDC Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, had little success in claiming the proceeds of the Chiadzwa diamonds [5] , he did receive U$ 1 billion in humanitarian aid and in 2009, U$500 million in Special Drawing Rights from the IMF. In response, he, among others, cut the government budget in half and abolished price controls. In February 2009 the Ministry of Finance started paying civil servant “salaries” in vouchers good for $100 U.S. dollars, regardless of seniority. As this was still extremely low, teachers threatened to strike at the beginning of the school term in May 2009. In July 2009, the Finance Ministry announced a 20% increase in the public service wage bill, some of which was used to introduce some progression into the salary structure, from $150 to $250 per month. But in both 2010 and 2012 Biti froze civil servants’ salaries, while he capitulated to salary increases in other years though only under pressure of threatened or actual strikes. This contrasted sharply with his fulfilling the excessive wishes of the MPs. Tsvangirai did not always concur and sometimes even clashed with Biti, but in the eyes of the public it was “his” MDC minister who was responsible for the continuous clash with the workers. Mugabe took advantage of the discord by – inconsequentially – supporting calls for salary increases. By 2013 the majority of civil servants earned a salary of between U$250 and U$300 while, according to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, a family of six needed about U$570 to lead a normal life. Unemployment also remained staggeringly high, as in 2011 only 31 per cent of the economically active men were in paid employment and only 14 per cent of the women [6]. The informal sector, which had grown explosively during the collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy, remained the only alternative for millions of Zimbabweans. While many barely managed to survive (think for example of sellers of air time), others like cross-border traders, owners of small shops, small entrepreneurs in agro-processing and craftsmen sometimes fared better. Meanwhile Operation Murambatsvina, unleashed by Mugabe in 2005, had destroyed the livelihoods of many urban informal workers and had forced many to seek refuge in communal agriculture [7].

Small-scale farmers had also scant reason to be happy with the MDC. The parastatal Grain Marketing Board, headed by ZANU stalwart Joseph Made, failed year upon year to pay farmers in time for their maize, blaming this on the late release of funds by the MDC Minister of Finance. Moreover, floor prices for maize, set by the Ministry of Finance-funded GMB, were generally considered unviable. As a consequence, farmers were forced to bypass the GMB and market their grain to commercial traders who paid cash but offered lower prices [8]. This subsequently cost them qualification for the GMB input provision programme.

In the meantime Mugabe started his own parallel Presidential Agricultural Input Scheme. In 2011 the Communal, Resettlement and Small Scale Farmers Union, ZFU, issued a statement saying that 560,000 households had benefited from the presidential programme, surpassing the government scheme. “We have made our own assessments and we have realised that only a few households benefited from the GMB Scheme and the President’s programme was put to good use and any good harvests are likely to be attributed to his timely intervention,” said Paul Zakariah, ZFU’s executive director. Of course we should not discount the fact that the ZFU can be considered a ZANU-PF mouthpiece, but still…
.. AND MDC-RULED MUNICIPALITIES TURNED DYSFUNCTIONAL DUE TO CORRUPTION AND INCOMPETENCE

Whilst MDC was quickly losing credibility with workers and small-scale farmers, it also managed to alienate many of its urban supporters in towns like Harare, Chitungwiza, Bindura and others where it scored massive victories in the 2008 elections and had taken over control of local councils.

In March 2009 Transparency International Zimbabwe called for an urgent forensic audit into rampant corruption by the senior staff of the Harare Municipality. Although some half-hearted attempts were made to address the problem (e.g. in June 2009 the Harare City Council adopted a report that probed illegal cattle sales and farming operations on its farms) the new councillors proved unable to contain their officials as, in particular, corruption in allocation of stands festered. Only in November 2012, after a directive by Local Government (ZANU-PF) Minister Chombo, was an internal probe mounted to address these matters.

Service delivery of water and sanitation that had turned abysmal under ZANU-PF already (remember the cholera outbreaks of 2008-2009), continued to deteriorate resulting in a typhoid outbreak in Harare in January 2012. At the same time, residents received unrealistically high bills for services that often had not been rendered and were even threatened with eviction, resulting in demonstrations and, in November 2012, a petition to the mayor and the minister to write off debts incurred by residents [9]. Other MDC-dominated urban councils like Chitungwiza and Bindura were equally riddled with cases of graft and non-delivery of services.

In 2013 the Combined Harare Ratepayers Association demanded from MDC that candidates for upcoming elections be selected by virtue of competence and not having been involved in corruption. Although MDC heeded such calls, for example Tsvangirai fired the entire Chitungwiza Council and 12 others involved in corruption and also started screening prospective candidates before the MDC primaries, the damage had been done.
IN CONTRAST, ZANU EMBARKED ON A POPULIST-NATIONALIST CHARM OFFENSIVE…

Of course, ZANU-PF politicians at all levels had not transformed into saints overnight, on the contrary. But, whereas MDC remained plagued by internal power struggles, ZANU became more and more united and focused (“bhora mughedi”). ZANU also surpassed MDC in keeping its deeds under the radar, assisted by its continued absolute dominance over the media [10] This enabled it to promote its nationalist agenda and widely report real or perceived gains to the masses.

Not only had ZANU managed to keep a tight grip on the media and security forces, it also controlled the country’s natural resources within the agriculture and mining sectors through the GNU-allocated Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Mining.
MINING

The Chiadzwa diamond scandal damaged ZANU’s and Mugabe’s image, but considering the enormous (illegal) proceeds from the diamonds and the localised nature of the conflict, it was probably worth it. In sharp contrast to its actions in Chiadzwa, the ZANU-PF-led Ministry of Mines, after initially clamping down on illegal mining in 2008 (Operation Chikorokoza Chapera/Isitsheketsha Sesiphelile), set out to legalise and support artisanal mining throughout the country. This apparently earned the party considerable goodwill amongst small-scale miners as the (ZANU-leaning?) Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Council (ZASMC), representing 25.000 registered small-scale miners (out of a potential 1.5 million), described ZANU’s victory as a welcome development in the country’s economic revival efforts.

The formal mining sector in the meantime grew rapidly, from less than 3,000 workers at the height of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis to some 43,000 in 2013 [11], thereby providing much sought-after employment opportunities.

Then, in January 2010, the ZANU-PF Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere, stepped up the indigenisation drive by publishing regulations requiring companies operating in Zimbabwe to provide specified information, including an indigenisation implementation plan, by April 15, 2010. After a prolonged battle, in January 2013 Impala Platinum (Implats), the world’s second biggest producer of platinum, complied with government’s demands and ceded 51% of its shares to black Zimbabweans. According to the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act of 2007 “Community Share Ownership Schemes or Trusts shall be established by businesses involved in the commercial exploitation of natural resources, including minerals..”, whereas “10% shareholding in qualifying businesses shall be reserved for the Community Share Ownership Schemes or Trusts”. The same Act allocated another 28% of the shares to an Employee Share Ownership Scheme, of which a maximum of 5% points had been set aside for managerial staff.

Although in practice the black elite will possibly once again get most of the bootee, the setting aside of shares for employees and communities must have raised the hopes of many a worker and rural dweller to at least get some of the pickings. In contrast, MDC-T former chief of staff in the office of the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mr Crispen Mbanga, stated unequivocally during the election campaign in July 2013 that if elected into power the MDC-T would remove policies such as indigenization [12].
THE FAST TRACK LAND REFORM PROGRAMME

The land redistribution exercise that had been delayed for the first 20 years after Independence showed similar nationalist and black empowerment trends. While many aspects of the Fast Track Land Reform Programme (the violence, the ZANU-connected elite getting the juiciest spoils, etc.), have been rightfully though one-sidedly criticised, the latest figures show that not only had the elite benefitted but also around 200,000 communal farmers had been resettled on new land. Even though so far little support has been given to the resettled farmers, one can imagine that these farmers would not be happy having to return their more fertile land to the former owners. In 2011 the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association registered 67,000 tobacco growers, who were resettled on former white-owned farmland. According to FAO-data the acreage under tobacco almost doubled, from 52,000 in 2003 to more than 100,000 immediately after the introduction of the U$-dollar in 2009. In other words, life for these settlers has improved considerably.

In 2001/02 there were an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 smallholder cotton growers in Zimbabwe, mostly located in the North-West and Northern areas of Gokwe, Sanyati and Muzarabani. Small-scale cotton production increased steadily from the eighties, throughout the liberalisation period of the nineties and even under the Fast Track Land Reform Programme with all its associated problems. Although cotton farmers face a host of problems, not least being depressed prices, still many resettled farmers will have set their eyes on improving their lives through cotton earnings. Not surprisingly then that the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU), claiming to represent 1 million communal, resettlement and small-scale farmers, and the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) representing mostly black large-scale commercial farmers, endorsed ZANU’s victory in early August stating that it would ensure the continuity and maintenance of people-driven programmes and policies.

Although in 2006 MDC had formally stated that it did not want to reverse land reform [13], it generally failed to convince Zimbabwe’s small-scale farmers otherwise and Tsvangirai had to placate his rural audience in this respect time and again even during his 2013 election campaign.

Of course MDC’s performance was not all that dreadful; some commendable work was done, in particular by the Ministry of Health (headed by MDC-T Minister Henry Madzorera) and the Ministry of Education (led by David Coltart of the split-off MDC-M). In the final account, however, ZANU appears to have been the true master in claiming credit for the (little) progress made under the Government of National Unity while laying the blame on MDC for the continuing hardships.
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE VOTED?

Returning to the overarching question, it remains to be seen whether MDC would have won the 2013 elections if no rigging had taken place. What would you have voted if you had been that communal dweller who had received a fertile piece of land; if your small mine claim had just been registered; if you were a jobless ex-farm worker; if your small business was gradually getting off the ground (whom would you credit?); if you had lost your livelihood under Murambatsvina in 2008; if you had just received U$1,500 dollars at the tobacco auction; if you had been struggling with corrupt MDC council officials about a plot for your house; if you had a job in a mine and were hoping to get a share of it; if …?

But even when you had no positive reason to vote for ZANU, you might still do so, fearing another wave of violence against MDC-voters, as happened in 2005 and 2008.

Many MDC-supporters must have been wondering too whether it had been worth all the pain and sorrow to support an MDC that after 5 years still had so few results to offer apart from many of its politicians being perceived to only be feathering their own nests. In that light, it remains an open question whether MDC would truly have won if there had been no vote rigging.
TO MAKE DOUBLE SURE

Post-election discussions have so far focused predominantly on this year’s voter registration, the rigging and the late release of the voters roll. However, already immediately after the 2008 election disaster ZANU started to make double sure that this would never, ever happen again. The first stage was the reorganisation of the constituencies.

Towards the end of 2009 MDC and ZANU clashed over the delimitation process, in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission demarcated new boundaries for the various constituencies to increase their number from 120 to 210. MDC alleged that they had been short-changed as traditional MDC strongholds in the cities gained only 28 extra constituencies while 62 had been taken up by the 3 rural Mashonaland provinces – the core of ZANU power. In addition MDC cried foul over the registration of 800,000 new voters, allegedly mostly the elderly, while youngsters were told that their chance to register would come later. But in July 2013 the UK Telegraph reported that only a quarter of the youth aged between 18 and 25 – who are expected to more likely support Tsvangirai – were understood to have been registered.

Add to this the continued exclusion of maybe more than 2 million voters (almost a quarter of the electorate!) living outside Zimbabwe and the open threats from army and police bigwigs that they would never accept Tsvangirai as president and it becomes clear that the stage for the elections had been set much earlier. Clearly, by 2013 MDC had been doing too little too late to try to balance the scales.

ZANU can only be blamed that they had overdone matters in their eagerness to “never, ever let this happen again”, as such a colossal victory is simply unbelievable.

It is quite astonishing that the MDC leadership, when it became increasingly clear that – on top of all the machinations mentioned above – an uninspected (and probably rigged) voters roll was going to be used, still unanimously decided to go ahead and remain in the race. Only two weeks before the elections Tsvangirai was quoted in the UK Telegraph as saying: “Although there is relative peace, the administration of the vote is so chaotic I can only foresee disaster.”
QUO VADIS ZIMBABWE?

The imminent danger is that because of the overwhelming victory, arrogance and revenge will gain the upper hand within ZANU and it might decide to deal with the opposition “once and for all”. After all, Mugabe has shown time and again that he neither forgives nor forgets. Though it would make sense to try to “reward” the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) for their support and even appease the UK and USA by making a gesture of peace and offer MDC a junior position in another government of national unity, chances are slim that ZANU will do so. Most likely MDC will be relegated to the opposition benches.

Common Zimbabweans unfortunately have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. They might have “elected” to denounce exploitation by an MDC elite mainly driven by self-interest and foreign influence, but instead will be further manipulated by a vengeful and unscrupulous ZANU-dictatorship that, under the guise of nationalist and pseudo progressive rhetoric, will continue enriching itself and its cronies.

Zimbabweans are therefore in for the long haul in their pursuit of freedom and prosperity for the masses. Two main questions immediately emerge here, one of content and one of strategy: What should a future Zimbabwe look like and how and with whom can such a vision be pursued?

On both matters, many ideas and opinions exist.

Some can of course be found in the election manifestos of the various political parties that contested the elections. NGOs, from human rights organisations to the industry, will undoubtedly also have been conferencing about “after the elections” scenarios. One of the most detailed economic development options has been formulated in recent years under auspices of the ZCTU and laid down in an extensive document “Beyond the Enclave” [14]. After having been translated into an abridged and simplified version, it is being popularised in a nationwide campaign from union branches, NGOs and churches to the media, relevant Ministries and Parliamentary Portfolio Committees. More radical views also exist, for example those held by ZANU-PF’s, although as shown above, one should question how genuine their rhetoric is. There are also “true” radicals like international socialist and former MDC-MP, Munyaradzi Gwisai, who is very explicit about what he wants (political democracy, nationalisation and international socialism) and sees no salvation in striving to achieve this with either ZANU-PF or MDC [15].

Clearly, ZANU-PF has once more gained the upper hand, not to say absolute control, and a lot of soul-searching will have to be done by individuals, political parties, unions, churches, social movements and other civic society organisations to analyse and admit their shortcomings and learn from them. A first step might be for small groups or pockets of genuinely concerned, likeminded people to come together in frank conversation to explore a way forward based on thorough analysis of events over the past years and the role each played. Such people do not necessarily have to be from within the same party or grouping; they could collaborate across borders, from within or outside the various political parties, or from society at large. The next step could be that some of these pockets reach out to each other, agree on basic principles and combine forces in a probing search towards a common goal.

It will however take a long time for a broad movement to be built from below by radical yet truly genuine ordinary people, activists, community leaders and aspiring party politicians who, with common vision and shared strategy, could mount a fourth Chimurenga [16].

END NOTES

[1] Mugabe won the presidential election with 61%, while ZANU trounced MDC in the parliamentary race with 76% of the 210 seats.
[2] See http://www.freedomhouse.org/article/zimbabwe-opinion-survey-reveals-hope-elections-cynicism-about-political-leaders for the Freedom House press statement and a link to the report of the survey.
[3] Wikipedia gives a clear table showing Zimbabwe’s inflation from 1980 till November 2008: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperinflation_in_Zimbabwe
[4] As at 31 October 2009, Zimbabwe’s total debt including arrears stood at U$5,4 billion according to Finance Minister Tendai Biti in the Zimbabwe Independent of 3 December 2009. Estimates of Zimbabwe’s GDP at the time are highly contested and can vary from U$2 to around U$ 10 billion. Estimates of GDP growth are therefore also unreliable but seem to fluctuate over the years between 4 and 10%. Of course this is growth starting from rock bottom.
[5] See for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marange_diamond_fields
[6] ZimStat, Women and Men in Zimbabwe 2012 Report
[7] Exact figures are difficult to come by. Combining several sources yields the following estimates: Zimbabwe’s total economic active labour force in 2010 approx. 6.600.000 (World Bank 2012) of which formally employed between 600.000 and 1.000.000. If 3.3 million people are, formally and informally, employed in agriculture (LO/FTF Council, Labour Market Profile 2012), about 2.5-3 million people have to find refuge in the non-agricultural informal sector. Zimbabwe’s Trade Union membership hovers around 165,000 (LO/FTF Council, Labour Market Profile 2012) while the membership of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) is around 440,000.
[8] Deliveries to the GMB dwindled from 249,792 tonnes of maize in 2010/11, to 212 622 tonnes in 2011/12 and 81 190 tonnes in 2012/13.
[9] Barely a week before the 2013 elections, Minister Chombo directed local authorities to scrap all outstanding rates as per 30 June 2013 in what many viewed as an attempt at urban vote buying by Zanu PF.
[10] The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA, 2002) which requires all operating media and journalists to apply for registration with the information ministry, which is controlled by ZANU-PF, was never repealed; neither was the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) of 2002 which sets narrow limits on public assembly. Any gathering which involves more than two persons is considered a public meeting requiring authorisation by state organs.
[11] Edward Mubvumba, National Employment Council for the Mining Industry in an interview with IRIN News on 11 April 2013
[12] Bulawayo 24; 11 July 2013; http://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-32924.html
[13] Towards a Comprehensive Transparent and Equitable Agrarian and Land Reform Programme for Zimbabwe; the MDC’ Standpoint and Proposed Way Forward, February 2006: “As previously stated the MDC does not in any way advocate for the return to the pre 2000 land ownership patterns, neither will it condone the inequalities and land aberrant distribution arising from ZANU PF fast track land process and the “Third Chimurenga.” The MDC is now geared towards bringing the Zimbabwe land crisis to closure, through an all-inclusive, participatory and professional process. The new process seeks to achieve equitable, transparent, just and efficient land distribution. In addition the process will address the overall structural problems in the agriculture sector originating from the colonial and ZANU PF’s political and economic policies.”
[14] See: www.ledriz.co.zw
[15] http://www.newzimbabwe.com/opinion-11969-Elections+rural+poor+vote+against+austerity/opinion.aspx Munyaradzi Gwisai, 07 August 2013; “Mugabe landslide: Rural poor vote against neo-liberal austerity”: “The (only) way forward for working people is to break from MDC and lay now the foundations for a new working people’s movement to continue the struggle against the regime. A movement that does not replicate MDC’s right-wing ideological bankruptcy but positions itself left of Zanu PF on an anti-capitalist, democratic and internationalist basis. Such a movement has to be slowly and organically built from the struggles of the poor, anchored around the newly radicalizing trade unions and social movements. It cannot be built or decreed from boardrooms. One that will not only fight for political democracy, but also for the full expropriation of mines, banks, big businesses and big farms now under new black exploiters and place these under democratic control of workers and rural farmers for the benefit of all, as part of a regional and international struggle to smash capitalism and build socialism.”…..
[16] Chimurenga is ChiShona for revolutionary struggle. The First Chimurenga refers to the Ndebele and Shona insurrections against the British South Africa Company during the late 1890s. The Second Chimurenga was the war for Independence from the white Rhodesian government during the 1960s and 1970s. The Fast Track Land Reform Programme is sometimes referred to as the Third Chimurenga

Jos Martens is an activist who has lived and worked in Zimbabwe and the SADC region since 1984. He is presently employed by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Southern Africa Regional Office in Johannesburg

Still no proof Mugabe rigged elections, according to new Solidarity Peace Trust report — by Peta Thornycroft

Zanu PF’s landslide election ‘victory’ was probably at least partly the result of five years hard campaigning for new voters, as there is still no proof of rigging, according to a report from the Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT).

Respected academic, Brian Raftopoulos’s analysis in SPT’s election report, describes how Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party overcame losses at the 2008 elections.

Coercion and handing out material benefits to voters helped the party gain an astonishing 1 m more votes in the July 31 polls.

Raftopoulos’ analysis, released on Friday, includes number crunching of voter turnout and comparisons with previous elections since 2000 when the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), became the first political party to really challenge Zanu PF’s power.

Statistics show that the MDC’s support is as it was in 2008 when it narrowly beat Zanu PF and has been relatively static ever since it burst onto the political scene late 1999.

Raftopoulos says the “long history of authoritarian nationalism and state (Zanu PF) brutality continues to play a major…role in the country’s politics.”

But, Raftopoulos also argues, Mugabe and Zanu PF not only retained a “substantial social base” in this year’s election, from “ideological legacies” but also attracted fruther support from its ‘land reform’ programme which began in 2000 and saw about 200 000 poor families receive land taken, often violently, from white farmers.

He also says that Zanu PF’s won substantial extra support in the same period from the rapid growth of the informal mining sector.

“As the economic situation worsened, (post 2000) the party-state patronage system became more entrenched.”

Zanu PF’s so-called “indigenisation and empowerment policy” also informed voters that supporting Zanu PF was “the single most important criterion for access to state mediated economic opportunities. The party manifests itself as a localised capitalist oligarchy……”

Raftopoulos says there were violations of electoral law before and during elections.

And Zanu PF “systematically blocked central reforms” of the Global Political Agreement, (GPA) signed by Zanu PF and the two MDC parties after the previous violent elections in 2008.

“Even as ZANU PF largely kept the energies of the MDCs concentrated on the single issue of constitutional reform, the former concentrated its activities on election preparations…”

Zanu PF, which controlled all the security ministries in the inclusive government which emerged after the GPA was signed, harassed MDC and civil society documenting human rights violations and supporting victims. Zanu PF also interfered with NGO’s working on voter registration.

SPT notes in the report that almost 25 percent of extraordinarily high voter turnout in the July 31 election was in Zanu PF stronghold constituencies.

While an average of nearly eight percent of voters were turned away and could not vote across the country, SPT’s numbers show double that number were unable to vote in the MDC’s Harare strongholds.

While the numbers for voters rquiring assistance to vote were generally below illiteracy rates, “the devil is in the detail,” Solidarity says. “There are convincing reports of fully literate individuals forced to declare themselves illiterate and vote with assistance of known ZANU PF supporters.

“Election results since 2000 show some recognisable, if depressing, trends,” SPT says.

Votes for Tsvangirai’s MDC “remained remarkably consistent” over the last decade. The ZANU PF vote has generally, with the exception of 2008, been several hundred thousand votes more than the opposition vote.

“The leap in one million votes for ZANU PF is hard to explain between 2008 and 2013 – but is more believable when seen as (only) 27% higher than their 2002 vote.

SPT says it couldn’t establish whether the massive increase in the number of voters in many Zanu PF strongholds were ‘irregularities’ as the MDC claims, or whether this was a result, as Zanu PF claims,of its energetic voter registration campaign over the last five years.

SPT, like other analysts was unable to find proof of rigging.

However it does say systematic disenfranchisement of Harare voters, combined with the busing in of rural voters indicates attempts to hijack these constituencies for Zanu PF.

SPT mentions Israeli company, Nikuv, which The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper revealed was secretly paid by the pro Zanu PF registrar-general for undisclosed work on the voters roll. The paper said Nikuv had been working on the roll for about the last 20 years with no one able to discover what work it did and why it could not be done by Zimbabweans.

SPT says because the electronic version of the voters roll was illegally withheld from the MDC, and was still not available, it can make no finding on whether election results reflect the will of the people.

But, SPT says, the failure of the anti Zanu PF parties to form an election pact split the vote and cost them control of two Matabeleland provinces, south and north, which they controlled since 2000.

And SPT says present voter statistics show dramatically that three western provinces, Matabeleland South, North and Bulawayo, were effected “by diasporisation” as many registered to vote were no longer resident in the constituencies.

As results emerged less than 24 hours after voting ended, some Zimbabwe NGO’s claimed that the MDC’s loss of the Matabeleland South province to Zanu PF – where Zanu PF killed thousands after independence – was proof that the vote was rigged.

That is what much of the world’s media reported at that time, but statistics tell another story, that the loss of the province was a result of split votes, not rigging.

Seventeen parliamentary seats were lost to Zanu PF via the split vote. If MDC had won those seats, Zanu PF’s two-thirds majority would be reduced to only one seat, so Zanu PF would have to ensure all its MP’s were in the house if it wanted to change the constitution with the necessary two-thirds majority.

SPT says Zanu PF holds 79 percent of all seats.

The MDC now controls only two out of ten provinces. In 2008 it controlled six.

The MDC’s most dramatic losses were in two provinces, Manicaland in the east, which it formerly controlled overwhelmingly, and central province, Masvingo. These two provinces voted convincingly for Zanu PF with no dramatic increase in voter turnout in Masvingo.

The future looks even bleaker for the MDC in future presidential elections, SPT says.

The MDC’s support base is concentrated in Zimbabwe’s three western provinces and low voter turnout there means it will be difficult to defeat any future Zanu PF presidential candidate.

That’s because “three times as many voters in three rural Mashonaland provinces which are Zanu PF strongholds, compared to the three Matabeleland provinces.”

It is unclear how many people would vote for the MDC if the environment was fair and free from intimidation, if the “harvest of fear” – memories of Zanu PF horrendous violence in 2008 elections – was not there, or if hundreds of thousands of voters now in the diaspora were enfranchised.

But it says it’s unlikely anything will change before elections in 2018.

SPT says the democratic movement must rebuild and engage with a “dynamic and changing” electorate, particularly in rural areas, resettled areas and the informal mining sector.

The priority for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which mediated Zimbabwe’s progress towards the 2013 elections, was “stabilisation not democratisation,” says Raftopoulos.

“SADC settled for minimal electoral reforms and a new constitution and the absence of levels of violence that marred the 2008 elections…..Zuma blinked …and SADC took what can only be described as a supine position on the electoral outcome.”

This story first appeared in the Sunday Independent [South Africa], October 6, 2013, p. 10, and is reprinted here with slight edits and with the permission of the author.

Peta Thornycroft is a freelance reporter based in South Africa who has covered Zimbabwean political and economic news for many years.

Zimbabwe`s Diaspora Dilemma: Come Home or Stay Put?

By Perry Munzwembiri

Zimbabwe has witnessed a significant outflow of her citizens over the years. This was one of the effects of the so called ‘lost decade’ where Zimbabweans migrated abroad in droves searching for greener pastures. These now constitute a Zimbabwean Diaspora community scattered around the globe. It would be remiss to fault the thousands who left the country at a time when the country was starring down the barrel; hamstrung by hyperinflation and chronic unemployment. The allure of brighter prospects offered by distant lands was simply irresistible to close the eyes to.

The negative upshots this massive drain of skilled human capital has had on the economy have been all too apparent. The nation has been shorn of the expertise of those who could have contributed to the progress of the nation. This argument has steadily gained traction over the years, with the general consensus being that had the Diaspora community been around, they would have positively applied themselves to build a better economy.

Various people have been adding their voice to the ever increasing call for the Diaspora community to return back home. The question however is, to what exactly should the Zimbabwe Diaspora community come back to? At first glance, it may sound unpatriotic to make an assertion of that kind. However, a critical introspection of where we are as a nation would seem to point out to the crude fact that nothing has really changed.

Some would argue that it is because of that very fact; that the thousands of Zimbabweans abroad should make the journey back to their motherland. Having been exposed to the developed world, they would be in good stead to help develop the country. Indeed the skills and expertise that has accrued to them over their stay in foreign developed lands would be essential for the country`s advancement.

Be that as it may, Zimbabwe`s readiness to assimilate the many who left the country is a matter of debate. However unpalatable it may be to some, it is my view that the country is not at present equipped to integrate its returning citizens.

When people could not find gainful employment in their homeland regardless of their qualifications and training, there was no inducement for their continued stay in Zimbabwe. After all, the country`s motto is ‘Unity, Freedom, Work’ and the government had dismally failed to provide meaningful employment for its people. With no means to earn a living in the face of a sky rocketing cost of living, most resorted to going abroad to earn a living. Years later, though the economic environment has changed somewhat, jobs are still scarce. The government pegs the unemployment rate at around 60% though that figure must be taken with a block of salt if one is to look at reality on the ground. If the Zimbabwe Diaspora were to return, it is not immediately foreseeable how they would all be seamlessly integrated into the productive workforce. All this seems to indicate that there is no room for the Diaspora community, at least from an employment vantage point.

It is heart-rending to note that as a country, basic amenities are still not being covered sufficiently. The country is still being subjected to the vagaries of erratic utility supplies. At a time when the country needs its industry to be functional, it is hard to see how this can be achieved under the present circumstances. Electricity cuts and water shortages are the order of the day and this heavily prejudices the economy. The cost of doing business is sharply increased as a result. Even when we are calling for Zimbabweans to come back home and be entrepreneurial, the current situation is untenable and at best does not encourage local enterprise to flourish.

Closely tied to the current inert industrial base, is the issue of budgetary deficits the country has been running. For a long time, the country has been importing more goods than it has been exporting. Remittances by the foreigners has for long been sustaining the budgetary deficit incurred as a result of the country importing more than it has been exporting. The World Bank notes that in most developing countries, remittances are the second largest financial inflow, far exceeding international aid. If the country were to not obtain these financial inflows of money which have been augmenting national income, the effects on the country`s Balance of Payments would be dire. So to the extent that the country`s financial system is reliant on Diaspora remittances, it would be a huge disservice to the nation if the Zimbabweans abroad would come back home.

It would be a fallacy to deny that the en masse migration of Zimbabweans abroad has negatively impacted families, society and ultimately the whole country. In an ideal world, it would have been preferable to have all our citizens hands on deck; working to build the country. However, the current state of affairs in my opinion does little to lure back those who left the country at the peak of its economic meltdown. At present therefore, it would be a ‘hard sell’ to convince the Zimbabwe Diaspora community to settle back home.

I asked Fashola to apologise to the Igbos – Ngige

By Stanley Odera

Dr. Chris Ngige today met with senior Igbo Journalists in Lagos. Answering questions on deportation, he said he was the one who asked Fashola to apologize to the Igbos. This is contradictory, because Ngige has all along justified the deportation of 74 of his brothers and sisters saying they were mad people. Meanwhile the reason why APC of Ngige kept postponing the flag-off of their campaign has been revealed. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinube

ordered that the campaign should not be flagged off until he returned to the country (he returned yesterday), and personally scrutinize the agreement Ngige signed with APC Governors on how the money (over 8 Billion Naira), they will contribute to him will be paid back.

In another developement the ASIWAJU of APC ,ALHAJI BOLA TINUBU who came back to Nigeria after a successful knee operation in USa ,has summoned Rochas Okorocha and Ngige and mandate them to bring SENATOR ANNIE OKONKWO back into NGIGE’S camp with immediate effect,meanwhile Gov Rochas Okorocha who abandoned his Imo state base and relocate to Awka at the command of APC ,met with Annie Okonkwo and offered to pay him 600 million as peace offering and pledge unbehalf of Ngige to pay another 1.4 Billion to ANNIE after the election ,which was agreed will be spaced out into monthly allocation .

Under the command of Asiwaju Tinubu ,APC has redeemed the pledge they made to Ngige and his campaign,TINUBU AND FASHOLA 2.5 BILLION EACH,GOV ROCHAS 2 BILLION all the APC GOVERNORS 500 MILLION NAIRA EACH.

Nigeria: Our Legislator​s: Represent Us Well Or Else

By Abiola Akintunde

Most Nigerians are now more than before used to elected officers not being grateful for the immeasurable honour they’ve done them by electing them as their representatives either at executive or legislative capacity to serve Nigeria; as a people and lifting the nation high, and also being accountable to us on how well they are making decisions that will mend, shape and affect our lives on our behalf. This sense of irresponsibility and incivility is a

national political culture owed to election malpractices, supremacy of public office holders and increasing citizens indifference towards government. I will not be talking about citizens in this piece but about our legislators (State and Federal) while ignoring the foolish child’s play of the presidency in “Aso Rock” which has furtherly condemned us into our survival game of life for necessities only. Especially when I don’t want the whole presidential media train behind me crying “don’t mislead Nigerians, President GEJ didn’t condemn his people to poverty it’s just that he refused to lift them out of poverty while they drown the more in it and no one will blame him for that except the ever-intellectual social media weasels”. If I am to consider the past fourteen years of legislation in this country (nation), I won’t be hoping that the honour Nigerians have done them will not stain and ruin their garment of integrity but improve the art of selfless service to their fellow men which they embodied for their garment of integrity is very stained and apparently ruined.
To be an elected representative in any legislative arm is the greatest honour which Nigerians can confer on one of us especially when the constitution itself, both in words and spirit, confers on the holder of such status the voice of the people he/she represents. As a legislator, you are elected not to watch the misdeeds and unpatriotic actions or inactions of the government officials with digustful eyes that will be visited with graceful forgiveness or pardon on your path as that will be tantamount to treason, but must be visited with investigations that will shed light on the issue and penalize the offender as such. I, as well as Nigerians know that we are not there yet as the case of Hon. Crook (sorry, Farouk) Lawan and the oil subsidy scandal is a living testimony while I doubt oledola (meant otedola) might still have something to say as regards that. With the ongoing amendment on Nigeria Constitution by the National Assembly (NASS) and their strangulating amendments that have refused to lessen the burden of Nigerians but stiffen it the more through the unpopular life pension that will not only be paid to President, Vice President, Governors’, Deputy Governors’ but unto Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Federal House Speaker, Federal House Deputy Speaker, State House Speakers’ and State House Deputy Speakers’ as well if it scale through harmonization while it is difficult for them to pay unemployed graduates #20,000 for monthly upkeep since Nigeria is broke. Nigeria is the only country I know that when it is about financing the welfare of it’s political class that it’s financially and economically buoyant but when it is that of the welfare of it’s citizen, the country then become suddenly broke (cash are found wanting in our treasury, oil theft is on the increase and debt is more than before, piling up). Seems I have to remind our legislators that their duty as legislators is to scrutinise bills and conduct of government officials, though I knew they know their duties which they happily disregard.
I don’t understand what our legislators take us for anyway because there isn’t one partcular thing they’ve done in favour of the majority of the people of Nigeria. Once again they fall our hand after they back fuel subsidy removal, they refused to held President GEJ to his word as an honorable man on the issue of palliative measures to reduce the burden of fuel subsidy on the people (and I hear jonathanians saying is partial fuel subsidy removal now). These our legislators also found it difficult to protect the dignity and right of the female child in Nigeria in terms of marriage, I know #ChildNotBride is coming to mind as Senator Ahmed Yerima comes to mind also. Our NASS has also refused to accept they are draining our treasury side by side with the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and has reiterated that how can they drain our treasury and be a source of waste to our economy when they collect 3% of budget allocation which amounts to over one trillion naira in eight years (of course, NASS is not a source of waste but termites and rats in our treasury). We also know you do collects allowances meant to develop your respective contituencies and senatorial districts which you rarely spend for that purpose as you personalised it and bribe those that will influence electoral process in your favour during the next election. I will stop here because if I continue to show you (our legislators) your shortcomings, I won’t be able to pass across the warning; which is my purpose.
Since these are the kind of stories that rhyme with the national anthem in our ears and our legislators are yet to understood their function; which is for them to properly make laws, check and balances the executive arm and fearlessly speak the mind of Nigerians, I am compelled to bring to the understanding of our legislators (Federal and State) that they must represent us well to avoid our anger fuelled by their incompetence and insincerity in their duty towards Nigerians. Our legislators have to know that to shoulder the obligations and responsibilities of this office in making sure that normalcy return to Nigeria; when we will all be proud to call ourselves Nigerians without shame and our happiness will know no bound for being called Nigerians, that they must not just sit down in Apo to satisfy the elite and themselves alone but the interest of every citizen of our country especially when we are ready to turn it into a game of retribution. It is therefore in your (our legislators) personal interest to represent us well if you are not so willing before, because we the hungry sons and daughters of the lion (social media) clan will not only devour you in our den (social media site) but will prey on you in the wild (on the streets of Nigeria), in the open (at your comfort zone), in pathways (on our roads) to satisfy our unsatiable hunger caused by your policy of famine with your flesh and our unquenchable thirst caused by your policy of thirstiness with your blood. We will seek succour in the ounces of your flesh and litres of your blood that we will continue to take until our rights, priviledges and necessities are ascertained and the future of our children is guaranteed. I need not to stress how much we meant business to you (our legislators) anymore, yeah, we do mean business for if you refuse to represent us well by making laws that will enhance and promote not only true democracy nor security of our lives and properties but those that will promote prosperity and happiness amidst us and will redeem our mortgaged future, we will not take out those flesh from your bones and drain the blood from your blood vessels while you are dead but alive; with your sight intact so you can see how strong our bite is and you won’t be deaf so as to hear us roar. Hell yes, this will be fun for us and this is the more reason I won’t plead with you to lesgilate well or represent us well for I want to see Nigerians taking it all out on you for a true freedom.
Our legislators, to avoid this horrible and humane (considering our present humane standards) acts of retribution, I will say, represent us well and legislate us well. I do promise you that Nigerians will not be offended if you also consider resigning as a result of incompetence, lack of confidence and failure to familiarise with the duties and responsibilities of the ‘peoples legislator’ since you can not properly represent our core interests. Failure to do this will attract dire consequences; the type you have never seen in the Nigeria history. This might be the last warning…. An unfinished statement they say is enough for a man of virtue.

Eritreans in Oakland, CA held Candle Light Vigil for Italy Boat Victims

Solomon G Assefaw

Eritreans in Oakland, CA held Candle Light Vigil for Italy Boat Victims

October 5, 2013
The entire world and in particular Eritreans watched and heard with horror the images of dead Eritreans off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy.  Images of several bodies lifelessly lying at the shore have been displayed all over Facebook.  Other images shown include those of people who were found alive looking gravely injured and a young exhausted woman with an oxygen mask.

Eritreans from all over the Bay Area frustrated over the news and these images immediately rallied together to honor the victims found dead off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy.  Most of the victims have yet to be identified, yet several reports indicate that majority of the victims were young Eritreans in search of a better life. Stories and pictures of the victims are slowly emerging on Facebook and other news sources.

More than 100 American-Eritreans gathered at the intersection of Telegraph and 51st street in Oakland, CA for Saturday’s vigil to pray, light candles, show support for all the families and friends of the victims.  The people gathered were mourning the loss of young lives with all their dreams and hopes.  Several were moved to tears as speakers provided details of the accident. Others who attended the candlelight hope that this is a wake up call for all Eritreans.

Eritreans have faced many tragedies in recent years.  In 2011, approximately 400 victims mainly Eritreans died in a similar circumstances.  In 2012, several Eritreans suffered and were killed in the Sinai dessert.    These incidents are in addition to the ones that do not capture the headlines.  It is believed that there are several other victims that die crossing the Mediterranean Sea or the Sinai dessert to escape the brutal dictatorship in Eritrea.

Participants of the candle vigil night said that all these deaths are starting to take a toll on the community and this incident has brought the community in Oakland together. Eritrean-Americans are searching for ways to end the root cause of these unnecessary deaths.  Several organizations including, Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change (EYSC) are grateful for the Italian authorities that continue to search for more victims.  In addition, EYSC is urging that the Eritrean government, through its Embassy in Rome, cooperate with the international community and provide these Eritrean citizens a final resting place in their homeland.

In closing remarks one of the speakers asked that Eritreans all over the world do more than candle light vigil to honor these vicitims.  He added, “we know the cause: it is the oppression, brutal dictatorship of Isaias Afeworki, and we need to work hard to bring about change otherwise we will continue to have several candle light vigils for more victims”
During the event flyers that explains what happened to our brothers and sisters in the Mediterranean Sea and why it happened was been distributed to those non Eritrean  mostly  Americans whom were walking by the event place.

Candle Vigil Organizing Committee-Oakland.

Nigeria: Jonathan, ‘rebel’ govs’ meeting postponed indefinitely

The peace talk between President Goodluck Jonathan and rebelling Peoples Democratic Party governors was on Monday postponed till after the conclusion of the Muslim and Christian pilgrimages.

No specific date has been fixed for the next meeting.

Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State said this in a communiqué he read after a meeting the President held with four of the aggrieved governors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Governors loyal to the President were also at the meeting.

The four rebel governors who attended the meeting included Rivers’ Rotimi Amechi; Kano’s Rabiu Kwankwaso; Kwara’s Abdulfatah Ahmed; and Niger’s Babangida Aliyu.

Imoke, who was flanked by Aliyu, Ahmed and Idris Wada of Kogi State, said the meeting received apologies from the remaining rebel governors – Sule Lamido of Jigawa State; Aliyu Wamako of Sokoto State; and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State.

The three are currently on Holy Pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Cross River State governor said the meeting resolved that all the parties remained committed to resolving their differences, despite some unnamed ‘unfortunate events’ that arose after the last meeting.

He said, “Sequel to the meeting held on the September 15 and in line with the agreements reached at the meeting, the governors met with the President, Vice President and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, with apologies from the Governors of Jigawa, Sokoto and Adamawa, who had travelled for the Hajj.

“The meeting which was cordial, resolved that in spite of the unfortunate events that arose after the meeting of 15th of September, the parties remain committed to the resolution of the differences.

“The meeting agreed to continue to take steps towards implementing the resolutions agreed to at the previous meetings.

“In view of the absence of some of the governors, it was resolved that the meetings be reconvened shortly after the Muslim hajj and Christian pilgrimages are concluded.”

Jonathan attended the meeting alongside Vice President Namadi Sambo; the chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih; Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State; Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State; and Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State, among others.

Shortly after the meeting ended at the First Lady Conference Hall, Akpabio returned to the President’s office to confer with him.

The governor later proceeded to the Vice President’s office to also hold a closed-door discussion with Sambo.

The details of Akpabio’s brief consultation with the President and his Vice were unknown as at the time of this report.

Nigeria: PDP and Crisis Management 101

Crisis Management should be a required course for Nigerian politicians as it provides training in the management and resolution of crisis within an organisation. The formal study of crisis management originated in the 1980s, in response to major industrial and environmental disasters. However, it has since been extended to include the management of crises arising from both internal and external threats to political units, ranging from family units to whole states as well as other units and organisations in-between.

Such a course is particularly necessary for the management of conflict within and between political parties in Nigeria, because conflict is as endemic within Nigerian political parties as corruption is within the body politic. Incidentally, the causes of both diseases overlap considerably. First, the leaders engage in endless struggles for power and influence, motivated either by sheer personal political ambition or by regional or zonal claims of “it is our turn to rule”. Once power is attained, the power holder tends to appropriate as much resources as possible to his own coffers. Ultimately, the politics of self-interest underlies most of the conflicts within the parties.

Second, the winner-takes-all philosophy adopted in our presidential system and the concentration of power in the hands of presidents, governors, and local government chairmen had increased the stake in the access to power, especially at the centre. As a result, individuals and groups within each political party engage in various tactics to position themselves for available or potential positions. Such attempts are particularly heightened within ruling parties at the federal and state levels. Conflict arises because systematic democratic principles are not adopted when different individuals or groups struggle for the same position.

Third, the conflict worsens because of delayed response or lack of it by the party leaders, who often use the party machinery under their control in favour of candidates in whom they have vested interests. In the final analysis, the aggrieved candidates and their supporters often form a faction, which threatens the unity of the party. Where such factions are not adequately pacified, their members often defect to other parties.

Although all Nigerian politicians are ideal candidates for a course in crisis management, members of the Peoples Democratic Party are prime candidates. Since 1999, their party has faced various threats, some of which have threatened the survival of the party, while others have affected the quality of governance because their party has been in power at the centre and in the majority of states in the federation. Ultimately, it is the entire citizenry that suffer as their welfare is put on hold while party leaders struggle to appropriate rewards from one crisis or the other.

What is particularly troubling about the PDP crises is that they are never about ideological or policy differences. Rather, they are about power, that is, about who controls what office or resource. That’s why the party is always fractionalised as a major election or the distribution of positions or resources approaches.

Given the way that the PDP leaders have dealt with those crises in the last 14 years, none of them could have passed Crisis Management 101, let alone be allowed to enrol in the 200 level course. One major reason they don’t do well in the 100 level course is their inability to provide a democratically approved procedure for dealing with intra-party disagreements. Instead, they concentrate on punishing members of dissenting groups, and possibly driving them out of the party. This is because their concept of party discipline does not give room for dissent. Yet, dissent is the basis for debate, an essential feature of democracy.

It is, therefore, not surprising that the PDP has been in a series of crises as different groups within the party struggle to position their members for the 2015 general election. Central to such struggles is the positioning of members in different committees that could influence the choice of candidates in the party primaries. This explains why, since the inception of the present administration in 2011, factions have developed around particular candidates or groups (a) as members of the National Working Committee and State Party Executives were being elected and (b) as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum was being elected.

Disagreements over these elections led to the emergence of two major factions within the party. One faction, now branded as the Old PDP, is led by President Goodluck Jonathan and loyal party leaders. Given the powers of the Presidency and its control of the party machinery, the Old PDP could be regarded as the mainstream. The other faction, the so-called New PDP, is the splinter faction being led by a former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, with Alhaji Kawu Baraje as Chairman. Fuelling the splinter group is regional or zonal politics as most of the key participants, especially governors, are from the North. Governor Chibuike Amaechi, a key participant from the South, is believed to be working in collusion with the Northern governors who supported his election as the Nigeria Governors’ Forum Chairman, a support suspected to have been motivated by Amaechi’s plan to run as Vice-President to a Northern candidate in 2015.

It will be unfair to dismiss the actions of the splinter group, without looking closely into their grievances. On the one hand, its candidates were allegedly schemed out of the election to the National Working Committee, which explains why the group walked out of the party’s recent National Convention. On the other hand, its candidate’s victory in the NGF election was turned on its head as the mainstream chose to recognise the losing candidate.

This is where the question of crisis management comes in. Knowing well in advance that different party members would like to strategise for the same positions, why did Jonathan and party leaders allow factions to develop in the first place? Moreover, what has he done to manage the subsequent crisis?

There is a straightforward answer to the first question, namely, the lack of internal democracy within the party, which is the strategy often employed by the party leadership to sideline others, who are constructed as non-loyalists. In Nigerian politics, you are readily regarded as disloyal if you have a dissenting view on major policy issues or you do not toe the party line in the allocation of positions and resources. The result is the stifling of dissent in any shape or form, including the suspension of dissenting members from the party.

As for the second question, Jonathan’s slow speed in responding to members’ grievances allowed for the full development of factions. His wobbly approach to crisis management is equally questionable. Resolution meetings are scheduled but never held, while actions continue to be taken by both factions that could aggravate the situation. For example, Jonathan should have waited for the ongoing crisis to be resolved before reshuffling his cabinet. Ordinarily, a cabinet reshuffle is an occasion for party members to jostle for available positions. In this particular case, the splinter group is the more aggrieved because of the perception that the ministers removed from the cabinet were those loyal to the group or sponsored by its leaders.

As the splinter group widens its membership, the Old PDP under Jonathan’s leadership must act fast to prevent the defection of the splinter group and its members. True, Jonathan has reportedly reached out to some former presidents and elder statesmen for their intervention, he must develop a template upon which to base any intervention. Crisis Management teaches us that the more a crisis lingers, the more difficult it is to resolve and the graver the consequences.
Via Punch

Delta Central by-election: Ogboru loses three-time running mate to APC

By Emma Amaize & Akpokona Omafuaire

EFFURUN — OGBUESHI Fidelis Tilije, three-time governorship running mate to Chief Great Ogboru in Delta State, has decamped from the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP, to All Progressives Congress, APC.

He announced his move, yesterday, at a rally by APC in Effurun, Delta State, to solicit support for the party’s candidate, Olorogun O‘tega Emerhor in the October 12, Delta Central bye-election.

Governors Adams Oshiomhole and Rochas Okorocha of Edo and Imo states, National Vice Chairman, South-South, Chief Tom Ikimi, former governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Senator Adego Eferakeya and former NUPENG Secretary General, Chief Frank Kokori, were party leaders that took part in the rally.

Leading several hundreds of DPP decampees to APC, Ogbuefi Tilije said: “You all know me as a three-time running mate to Chief Ogboru. I am here to tell you that APC is the change we want. I am here with all these followers to formally decamp to APC because the party represents what we want.

“We want change and APC is the only way. Vote for O’tega, vote for APC. I know the three candidates, there is the good, the better and the best. O’tega is the best.”

Also speaking, Chief Oyegun, said: “I was born here and I grew up here. I am here to tell you that we are 100 percent behind O’tega. The APC acceptance is about to be tested, come Saturday. The first battle for change is about to start, the Nigerian revolution is about to start, the Nigerian change is about to start, so be ready to vote APC.”

Chief Kokori said: “Nigeria now has two parties. The progressives, if you are a good Nigerian, you join APC. All the good people have left PDP for the APC. I tell you that change has come, their party has finished because many governors are leaving and very soon five more will join us, vote for change, vote for O’tega.”

On his part, Governor Okorocha said: “The victory of O’tega has been signed sealed and delivered. For so many years, Nigeria has suffered due to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The DPP is dead and the Egyptian you see today you will see them no more. “

Before handing over the party flag to O’tega, Governor Oshiomhole said “This battle is between O’tega and two others at large, Nigeria must have managed its past wrongly but we cannot compromised the future.”
Via Vanguard

Nigeria: Abdusalami canvasses new approach to fight insecurity

By KINGSLEY OMONOBI

ABUJA — Former Military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, yesterday, canvassed a comprehensive approach to national security management, saying the upsurge in violent extremism and domestic terrorism have rendered the traditional approach to security obsolete and ineffective.

General Abdusalami who spoke at the National Defence College Course 22 inaugural lecture titled, ‘Comprehensive Approach to National Security Management in Nigeria.’ also emphasized that the myriad of security challenges facing the country did not start under the Jonathan administration, noting that threats to the nation’s security have evolved over time.

He explained that there was urgent need to evolve new ways, procedures, mechanisms and institutions that would be effective in preventing, mitigating and managing myriad of security challenges confronting the country.

According to him, “the nature and pattern of outbreak of new and emerging threats can no longer be achieved through reliance on current approach to security, nor can it be achieved through a sole reliance on the security agencies alone.”

He said that current security threats have shown that the attainment and preservation of security must be everybody’s business, adding that the public is expected to play vital role in assisting the conventional bodies, especially in the area of intelligence gathering on activities of criminal elements.

Abubakar, who rebuked the regime of military rule, said the comprehensive approach he was advocating was concerned with restoring security, governance and development through inter-agency, inter-ministerial or even an inter-organisational framework approach.

“It is a structure that involves the use of political, diplomatic, security, economic and developmental interventions, governed by the rule of law in pursuit of a sustainable security in society,” he stated.

According to him, the need for this approach in the management of national security challenges in Nigeria is made even more urgent by the fact that threats to security in Nigeria have evolved over time.

He noted that as the 2015 general elections draw nearer, there was need for a comprehensive approach to national security management adding that lessons must be learnt from the crisis that engulfed some northern states after the presidential elections of 2011.
Via Vanguard