Chamisa threatens poll boycott again; Zim economy adds 60,000 jobs in H1; and more
Welcome to the Zimbabwe Daily Briefing for 2 July 2018
The weekend’s headlines:
Chamisa threatens poll boycott again over secret ballot printing
Two in court today for Bulawayo rally bombing
Analysis reveals ‘gross anomalies’ in electoral roll
Zim economy adds 60,000 jobs in H1; industry operating above 50%
Bread shortage averted
US cuts funding to opposition-leaning NGOs
Mugabe will vote for me, says Chamisa
Chamisa threatens poll boycott again over secret ballot printing (NewsDay)
MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa has again threatened to boycott elections at the end of this month, this time after his party officials were allegedly barred from witnessing the printing of the ballot papers in Harare on Friday. “If we do not agree on ballot papers, there will be no elections this year. I was told that our party members were not given time to witness the printing of papers, hence tomorrow [Monday], I am going to see [Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) head] Chigumba and [President] Mnangagwa. If we do not agree on that, there will be no elections,” he said.
Chamisa and other opposition figures have not explained how fraud could be conducted through ballot printing, but have demanded to have a look at the ballot papers, complaining that they could be made in such a way that they recognise Zanu-PF votes only. The boycott threat looks like political grandstanding, as does Chamisa’s demand for an audience with Mnangagwa and Chigumba, both of whom are expected to refuse to meet him.
Two suspects due in court today for Bulawayo rally bombing (New Zimbabwe, The Standard)
Two men identified as Douglas Musekiwa and John Zulu have been charged with the bombing at the Zanu PF rally in Bulawayo two weeks ago. Both men are from Bulawayo, despite President Mnangagwa’s claims that his would-be assassins were from outside the province. Latest reports indicated that the men should appear in court on Monday, but that the police had failed to win an extension to their detention. The Standard reported on Sunday that “after failing to prevail on the court officials, the detectives whisked the suspects away. Zulu and Musekiwa were walking with great difficulty.”
Procedural complications mean we will have to wait and see if the two men do appear in court today. The report that they are ‘walking with great difficulty’ raises concerns that they have been mistreated in custody.
Analysis reveals ‘gross anomalies’ in electoral roll (The Standard, NewsDay)
An analysis of the ZEC’s voters roll carried out by The Standard newspaper with help from an American biometric voter registration expert called Wes Beal has revealed several anomalies - including eight people registered at a fictitious address in Harare’s Highlands suburb who will vote in five different constituencies in the capital. Chamisa’s MDC-T party also claims to have unearthed anomalies on the ZEC’s voters’ roll, with over 400 voters registered at one non-existent residential stand in Chitungwiza, a dormitory town outside Harare, while another 300 reportedly appeared under one address at Dombotombo in Marondera.
If these shocking revelations prove to be true ZEC will have a hard time continuing to defend its integrity in the face of persistent accusations from the opposition. We wait to hear what Chigumba will say today at her weekly briefing on poll preparations.
Zim economy adds 60,000 jobs in H1; industry operating above 50% (The Sunday Mail)
Figures from Zimbabwe’s National Social Security Authority show 62,689 jobs were created in the first half of 2018, while 1,730 new companies were registered. The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries said industrial capacity utilisation has risen above 50% this year for the first time in seven years.
CZI president Sifelani Jabangwe said: “There is a challenge of accessing foreign currency, but (most companies) are now a going concern and are doing well. A lot of companies have been selling whatever they are producing; there has been significant uptake in terms of consumption and I think this has to do with the supportive measures put in place by the Government for the consumption of local products.”
The CZI is an independent institution that had some angry exchanges with Robert Mugabe during his time but, like many, is more sympathetic to the new government. The last six months may have welcomed a rise in industrial output, as observed by the CZI but not yet felt by the average Zimbabwean.
Bread shortage averted (NewZimbabwe, The Standard)
Zimbabwe’s millers have taken delivery of 30,000 tonnes of wheat imported from Germany through the Mozambican port of Beira - the first batch of a 200,000t purchase from Canada and Germany following intervention from Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, two of the country’s biggest milling companies, National Foods Limited and Blue Ribbon Foods, have resorted to using reserve stocks of wheat, according to The Standard.
Due to a lack of irrigation infrastructure, Zimbabwe produces less than half of its annual requirement of 350,000 tons of wheat. The government hasn’t allowed a shortage to happen since 2004-8, but the current shortage of foreign currency has made things tighter this year than in the recent past.
US cuts funding to opposition-leaning NGOs (The Herald, NewZimbabwe.com)
The United States Agency for International Development (USAid) has reportedly cut financial support to opposition-leaning NGOs including the Election Resource Centre, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), the Counselling Services Unit which provides support to victims of political violence, and corruption watchdog Transparency International Zimbabwe. ZimRights director Okay Machisa and ERC chairperson Trust Maanda confirmed the US had suspended funding, apparently because of concerns over misuse of funds.
The timing of the funding cut is surprising given the US’s long standing support for civil society in Zimbabwe despite persistent rumours of financial mismanagement. That the US has taken this decision suggests that the misappropriation had deepened.
Mugabe will vote for me, says Chamisa (The Herald)
Chamisa joked at a rally that he can’t turn down Mugabe’s vote, if Mugabe chooses to vote for him.
The regime-supporting Herald has gone big on the story, a sign of how toxic Mugabe’s endorsement has become.
Tweet of the Weekend
Thanks for flagging. This is a clumsy finger scrolling through my timeline. I did not mean to like. I don’t even recall seeing the original tweet. https://t.co/X53c7jwDYeJune 30, 2018
Two suspects in Bulawayo bombing appear in court
President Mnangagwa at AU Summit
ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba gives her weekly briefing on poll preparations