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The harmonised elections will bring an end to the Government of National Unity(GNU) which was set up after the 2008 disputed elections.
Mugabe argues that he had set elections for this date to respect the Consitutional Court judgement that said elections must be held by July 31.
What's interesting about that Consitutional Court judgement is that the consitution allows elections to be held up to four months after dissolution of Parliament which is up to 29 October, 2013.
By setting a deadline of 31st July, I think the court is actually rewriting the constitution to say that elections must be held one month after the dissolution of Parliament.
An earlier elections suits Mugabe very well because it means reforms that are meant to be done before the elections are not implemented as politicians go into campaign mode.
Also this early date means registration of voters does not go all the way to July 9. This is very important for Mugabe's party because the less registered voters the better for Zanu PF.
Also it must be remembered that Mugabe is 89 and is seeking another five year term and at that age he will not be able to run a rigorous campaign like he has done in the past.
Its hard to imagine Zanu PF winning an election where everybody eligible to vote is allowed to vote. People remember Zanu PF for the economic mess it created in 2007/08 where people literally lost everything in a hyper-inflation but in that environment the Zanu PF politicians got richer and richer.
I think at this stage its better for the GNU to go for even another month if that means that the elections are free and fair and there is a level playing field for all parties.
I hope that this date will be moved forward for the good of the people of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's long time ruler is the oldest African president and he is also the candidate of his party for the next elections.
Its staggering to think that at 89 he can choose to stand for a new five year term which if he wins he will rule until he is 94.
Whilst Zimbabwe has produced a new constitution which is due to be voted on next month, this proposed new constitution does not have a maximum age for a president or for a presidential candidate and it does not count all the terms served before this constitution.
Therefore Mugabe is free to contest the elections for a new term when some people think that he should be retiring from active politics.
Kiss FM and Radio VOP were the ones to lose out to stations that are very much aligned to Zanu PF which is more or less an extension of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation(ZBC).
What's the point for example, of granting a newspaper licence to the ZBC? This is what has been done by granting a licence to the Zimpapers.
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) needs to be seen to be promoting media plurality instead of having more of the same.
Now I understand they are now asking for applications for city licences. Its very hard to see any of those being a success apart from maybe Harare and Bulawayo.
This is because the Zimbabwean cities don't have the big stations required to sustain a commercial station. Instead BAZ should have awarded community radio stations for towns like Marondera.
In a country with such high unemployment I cannot see why this radio and television communications sector cannot be used to create new jobs.
By opening that sector to more players, a lot of people will get jobs. I can imagine how many jobs will be created by just awarding television licences to two other players.
Mugabe has ruled the southern African country since independence in 1980 and interestingly still wants to run for presidency whenever the election is next run.
Mugabe is currently the world's oldest president or head of state and has never spoken of stepping down.
According to the Commission only four applications were received and all of them were successful.
I think this is a welcome development and especially for a country where there has been no private daily newspaper for the last seven years.
The new licenses were also granted to publish the Daily News, Daily Gazette, Newsday and the Mail.
In a country of such high unemployment this will create so many jobs which is good.
What I would like to see is the opening of the airwaves. While there has been private daily papers before, there has
never been a private radio station for example operating from Zimbabwe.
To say that people who were disadvantaged more than thirty years ago should be the majority shareholders in any company does not make sense.
If the government had done the right things over the last thirty years there would be no need for this kind of ruling. But because the Zanu PF government did not deliver after all these years they now want reap where they have not sown.
I wonder how people can come with such proposals and even be able to pass them it into law without the intentions and consequences being debated vigorously.
Zimbabwe is not the most attractive country in the world to invest and such laws means companies will just look elsewhere. The neighboring countries must be excited.
Zimbabwe's economy is trying to recover after years of total abuse and neglect and the last thing that kind of economy needs is anti-investment type of laws like this.
Also the most annoying bit is that this law will benefit only a select number of people and I guess less than 200 who will go and get shares in all companies.
The majority of the people will benefit absolutely nothing from this. How will the rural people in Mutoko for example benefit from this? Only a select number of people will actually benefit and those people are already filthy rich right now but greed knows no end.
Its just like the land issue. The best and biggest farms were taken by well connected people whilst the majority haven't seen anything but they are the ones who have suffered the most when economy went into free fall whilst the well connected people shopped in South Africa.
It will be the same with this new law. When companies stop investing in the country or close it will be the local majority who will find themselves without jobs or goods whilst the rich who benefit mostly will continue to import whatever they want either from South Africa or the Far East.
Imagine if say Google wanted to invest in Zimbabwe. Imagine being told that the majority shareholding should be given to local people. Surely for what reason.
The local people should be encouraged to work hard and build their own companies from the ground up. The government's duty is to bring upon an enabling environment and a climate that will local people start their own companies and see them grow.
There are people who have done that already like Strive Masiyiwa of Econet. He didn't go and grab somebody's company and run away with it as his own but he built it from the ground up despite even resistance from the government at the time.
Now he has built a massive company with branches in many countries and I cannot see why anyone who wants to do the same can't follow his model and do the same.
This reaping where people have not sown is a bad omen for a country with many hardworking citizens who would rather work hard and achieve their goals.
I hope that this law will be successfully challenged and repealed because it will certainly pin the country back again and stop whatever little investment was coming into the country.
There is a lot of competition for investment on the African continent alone with some countries even offering tax incentives to attract investment and its rather very foolish to then come with counter productive laws like this one.
Its not surprising then to see why the country is where it is now.
In December Mugabe's party Zanu PF decided that their presidential election in the next election would be Mugabe and by then he would be 87 if next year or 88 if in 2012.
The purpose of this post is not to discuss the pros and cons of that decision taken at the Zanu PF congress but to ask what makes some leaders continue to want to lead forever and ever.
For somebody in his late eighties you would expect that somebody would be talking about retirement especially if that person had been in power for thirty years but that is not the case for Mugabe.
He is expecting to be president in his 90s assuming he wins the next election and gets a five year term.
Is it because he thinks he is doing a very good job and nobody will be able to continue that work or is it because of a mere lack of a succession plan.
Whatever the reason may be its interesting to see that right now in the structures of Zanu PF there doesn't seem to be anybody who is positioned to take over from the elderly statesman should be decide to retire.
That means he will go on and on maybe until he loses an election.
I am actually happy to see that the people in the Zimbabwe Media Commission have been named including its chairperson Godfrey Majonga and I am keen to see it starting to do some work in the coming year.
All these commissions are very important but I think that the one that could have immediate impact will be the media one when it starts processing applications for media licensing.
There has been tight media control in Zimbabwe over the last 30 years and at the moment there is no independent daily paper and independent television is just but a dream.
I hope the media commission will do its work quickly and process applications for people who have had their projects on hold for some time.
With unemployment so high at the moment in Zimbabwe, I think the media sector once fully opened up can employ a number of people which is good.
This could also see some experienced journalists go back to Zimbabwe because before they were simply no jobs especially after the Daily News stopped operating.
Its good also to see the new Electoral Commission established when the last one didn't even have the courage to announce the results.
After the 2008 General Elections, the results were withheld for a very long time and I could see that the electoral commission of the day didn't any much power at all over elections it was meant to have organised.
I hope that this new one will be truly independent and not be run by one of the political parties as was obvious in the last one.
These parliament driven commissions bring an end to commissions stuffed with retired army personnel.
One area of concern is funding to get these commissions rolling. Without the necessary funding I cannot see them do their work effectively and I hope the unity government will make sure that these commissions are well funded.
I thought the talks were going to be about implementing the remaining issues as spelt out in the Global Political Agreement(GPA) but it seems like there is much more than that.
The negotiations are said to continue through into the weekend which is rather surprising.
I was expecting that by now the members of the Zimbabwe Media Commission would have been announced but it appears the release of the names is being delayed for an unknown reason.
Opening up the Zimbabwe media will do a lot for the people of Zimbabwe who have been denied media freedom for years and if you think of it in a country with such high unemployment the media sector could employ quite a few people.
But I think the day when there is an independent radio broadcaster is being delayed as much as possible.
It would appear to me that there is so much fear of media freedom by Zanu PF but I think while it can be delayed they cannot stop it forever.
I hope that these talks will conclude over the weekend so that the country can get going again and I hope soon will independent newspapers will be launching.
I think that this was the right decision to take especially given the way Zanu PF continues to go on ahead as if MDC does not exist.
MDC won the last elections and should therefore be ruling Zimbabwe right now on its own right and the coalition actually benefits Zanu PF who lost the elections.
Now if you look at it you would think that it is Zanu PF who won the election.
I think the MDC needs to be respected as an equal partner in this unity government arrangement which was arranged by SADC more to please Robert Mugabe than anybody else.
This idea that people are arrested and then harassed then later on released with no charges should stop. It has happened again and again and people are put under stress for no apparent reason.
In the case of Bennett why can't he be tried quickly and if the courts find him guilty then let it be so and if he is innocent then he take his position as Deputy Minister.
I think the idea is to make sure that this takes as long as possible to frustrate the MDC but this trick has been played before and does not surprise anybody.
Also the idea of treating MDC Deputy Ministers like they don't exist should stop. Its sad to read that Jameson Timba saying he knows what happens in his own ministry through reading the newspaper like everybody else and yet he is the deputy minister.
I like it when Vice President Arthur Mutambara says that 'Mugabe must remember that he is President because of the Global Political Agreement.' Without it he would be leading just his party and nothing else.
I hope that this latest move by the MDC will move SADC into action. This transitional arrangement must not be allowed to last a long time because Zimbabweans deserve to choose their own government and not go with this SADC arrangement.
While I think this is very good move for Moyo, I wonder how good and beneficial it is for Zanu PF.
Moyo who is the independent Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho North, has been aligning himself with the former ruling party for some time with the articles he has been writing.
And I think he thinks for some reason now is the right time to rejoin the party and I wonder what agenda he has this time.
He comes to Zanu PF in a totally different environment of the Government of National Unity(GNU) but I think he is going to place himself in such a way that he rises to the very top of Zanu PF.
Zanu PF should be trying to win the hearts and minds of the people after losing the last election and I don't think Moyo is not the person to do so.
I will watching to see what happens in the next few months and especially with the Zanu PF congress coming soon and see whether Moyo will be elevated once again to the higher echelons of the party.
This week the Vice President Joseph Msika died and I think there is no doubt that he deserves to be declared a hero after serving the country for so many years.
However, its not always that somebody has universal acceptance as a hero and sometimes its about who actually doesn't get that recognition.
The Zanu PF politburo is charged with according people hero status and I think in this day and era that shouldn't be the case.
Maybe it was well and truly good when Zanu PF was the ruling party and the fact of the matter is that they are no longer and are in fact are now a minority party.
The idea of designating people as heroes by the politburo possibly made sense during the days when Zimbabwe was virtually a one-party state but things have changed now.
What happens if there is a new government led by another party other than Zanu PF. Does it mean that that party's supreme body the equivalent of the politburo will make that call?
That surely can't be right and I think that now is the time to set up an independent body which will decide who is a hero and who is not and at level.
Another thing to look at is the idea of giving people awards or medals before they die and not to wait until they die.
Also the hero net needs to be expanded to look beyond politicians but to also include academics, sports people, artists and so on to encompass the whole population and not just a clique.
Also an independent body would have fairly assessed people like Patrick Kombayi whom some felt deserved to be declared heroes tut obviously the Zanu PF politburo did not see it that way and there could be other cases of similar examples.
The sooner that task is taken away from the Politburo the better because Zanu PF is no longer the ruling party and things have changed and its time to move forward.
The former finance minister who last year contested the Zimbabwe 2008 Presidential elections and finished third has taken more than a year to launch his party.
I think the launching of the party is a good thing but I think that he has a lot of work ahead of him if he is to overtake the two MDCs and Zanu PF.
The good news is that he has at least two years to get his party ready for the next elections which should happen after the new constitution is launched.
I also think that he has lost traction because of the delay in the launching of the party but I could be wrong.
I have also read about some bickering in the party coming from senior members of the movement and if that's true then he needs to move quickly to make sure his party has the right image before the electorate.
I think having an alternative to the two MDCs and Zanu PF is good but the MKD must prove to be very different from those parties to attract lots of voters.
There is also the revived ZAPU to think about and I think having more strong parties is good for Zimbabwe's democracy and I will be waiting to see where MKD goes from here.
The suspended MPs are Abednico Bhebhe, Sijabuliso Mguni, Norman Mpofu, Thandeko-Zinti Mkandla and Maxwell Dube.
The other people suspended are not sitting MPs and these are Job Sikhala, Alex Goosen and Gift Nyandoro.
This is an interesting development as it comes from a faction that claimed to be more democratic when it broke from the main MDC which is led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
These are the MPs whose wins in the March 2008 elections enabled the smaller MDC faction to have a voice in the unity government.
MDC-M have an interesting scenario whereby the top leadership of that party failed to win seats in Parliament and only reached Parliament through the global agreement.
Suspending these MPs seems like a risky strategy because this is like suspending half the elected representatives from that party and I think it would have been better for the party to see if they could address their issues without necessarily suspending them.
I also think a strong MDC-M is good for Zimbabwe but with the way that the party now seem to be behaving it doesn't look like they would be stronger for much longer and that is a sad development.
Being the democratic party they claim to be the leadership of MDC-M should at least have discussed with key members like Sikhala to see exactly what their grievances were and to explain the party position.
I hope the MDC-M will resolve their problems soon so that they can concentrate on the real issues of rescuing Zimbabwe from its current state.
I think the real test will be in the implementing of those plans.
Its good to have the media laws in Zimbabwe changed to make it easier for other players to enter the media arena.
As a result of the current tough media laws, Zimbabwe has actually in the end lagged the other Southern African countries and is possibly the only country now in that region where all radio stations are still government controlled.
I hope these plans will come to fruition and that there wil be co-operation from all the parties involved.
It will also be good to see the likes of CNN and BBC allowed back in the country as soon as possible.
One thing that the new government should know is that relaxing of the media laws will also create employment as the new media players will need people to work for them. Anything that creates employment should be applauded especially in a country where unemployment is estimated to be near 90%.
The only problem with STERP is that it needs money that the coalition government doesn't have. What happens if nobody comes forward with the money?
Its also good to see that the making of a new constitution is finally going to kick off. I think that is one of the most important things that this government will do.
I hope to see a new people driven constitution that puts the people first and where no leader is going to be given sweeping powers to do whatever they want.
Now lets see what happens in the next 100 days and I hope that if they don't achieve everything that they have planned it would be a good start to achieve some of the things.
Over the past few days a lot has been said about the accident with some thinking that it wasn't just another accident even though Tsvangirai himself has since said it was just an accident.
The problem is that Zimbabwe's history is littered with many unexplained accidents and its only now that a lot of people have been recalling many of them.
My prayers and thoughts are with the Tsvangirai family as they go through this difficult time.
I wont dwell on that a lot myself but I hope Tsvangirai will be able to gather himself and continue in his bid to rebuild Zimbabwe.
It was a difficult task already and now without his wife I think its going to be even more difficult but like most people I hope and pray that he will soldier on and that Zanu PF will not give him unnecessary headache by co-operating as much as possible.
The fact that some political detainees have been released is good but I don't see the reason why it took so long to do that and why also not all of them were released at once.
As I have said before if Zanu PF does want to retain some support come the next elections then they have to be seen to be co-operative especially when they are moves being taken to make the lives of people better.
Any move contrary may easily confine them to the history books at the next poll especially if it is free and fair.
Mugabe came into power in Zimbabwe in 1980 when he was 56 years old and has remained in power since.
Just last year he contested the presidential election when he was 84 and although he lost we all know what happened after that.
What I find very interesting is that even though Mugabe is now 85, his party Zanu PF doesn't even think of a successor to succeed him and lead them in the next elections be it in two years or five years.
As things stand at the moment it seems like he will be the candidate for the next election whenever it is held.
The current government of national unity would have been an opportune moment for Zanu PF to groom his successor but it seems not.
But I also think that many people wouldn't care so much what would happen to Zanu PF when Mugabe finally retires that is if he ever does. He may keep on going and going, who knows.
For a long time Tsvangirai has been opposition leader but now he faces a new frontier as he will be working with his ministers in order to get things done and usher Zimbabwe into a new era.
I am sure he is aware of the many challenges that wait for him and that it will take a lot of time to solve them even just part of the problems.
I think it was good on the part of the MDC to take a gamble and join this new government and try and change things like the constitution to make the playing ground more even when elections are next round.
I don't like this idea of a unity government and I hope that the one in Zimbabwe is the last one. Ruling parties losing elections must leave office and not hang around hoping for a negotiated settlement which results in a government of national unity.
The fact that the unity government rewards the people who lost elections like Zanu PF is unfortunate but in the case of Zimbabwe its hard to see what else could have been done at this time apart from letting people suffer even more in the hope that Robert Mugabe would then give up.
I never thought such a path was good especially given that people have suffered enough and its time something positive starts to happen.
So it is Tsvangirai's turn to deliver what he can under the circumstances. I like the fact he list the three major issues as democratisation, humanitarian crisis and the economy.
I think restoring democracy to Zimbabwe would be a good thing because a lot of people have died needlessly for politics because the ruling party thought that nobody should dare oppose it.
There is no doubt in my mind that the challenges are great but its good to be doing something about those challenges. You cannot reverse nearly thirty years of misrule in six months but its good to give it a go and it will take time and I think time past this transitional authority.
The last time the zeros were slashed was at the the end of July last year when ten zeros and that was followed the introduction of coins.
This time people are also using foreign currency alongside the Zimbabwean dollar and therefore this may not be big news anymore but for those who earn their salaries in the local currency.
As noted before on this blog, its time the actual problems causing such high inflation are resolved and I hope the new unity government will get to work and at least try to stabilise the situation and get people to using the local currency again.
This is going to be a very unpredictable path for the MDC and I hope that they have joined knowing that things are not going to be straight forward because Zanu PF will try every trick in the book to make sure that when the next elections are held they will be better placed.
At the same time I think it was a good strategic decision to join because if a mistake was made it was in the signing of the original document way back in September.
Having gone this far and having involved SADC as much as they have done they needed a very good reason not to join.
I think to make sure that the MDC has good relations with the fellow SADC leaders it was a good decision to join now and review after six months.
The other way was not to join and let the country run to the ground but this is also a risky strategy because what happens then is not certain because Zanu PF could call elections on its own terms.
I am not expecting much from this unity government because I have always felt that the problems Zimbabwe currently have are better solved by having one ruling party and not a coalition who may not agree on many fronts.
But by giving this unity government a chance its a relief to SADC who had nothing else to give this time but SADC itself must have learnt some harsh lessons and the organisation needs to be neutral in future cases to maintain whatever credibility it is left with now.
I think that the way things are now makes the unity government maybe the better option compared to letting Zanu PF run the country to the ground.
I still think that these Sadc summits can deliver something but they have to be impartial to start with. Ideas like sharing of ministries should be discarded and they should be able to say one party gets defence and another gets home affairs and so and so forth and if they find that hard to say then its a waste of time.
Like I said before on this blog, ministries could be picked one after the other until they are all finished and that will be a fair distribution.
I think the ministries must be shared fairly to start with and no party should get the most powerful or influential ministries and then let the other party get the scraps.
I also think that it makes sense for the issue of governors to be solved now and not later.
The MDC must be careful to make sure that their demands are met now before entering the government otherwise once in government it could end up being a government of squabbling with nothing being done for the people they are supposed to serve.
I think the problem with these summits is that Sadc sees things through opposition and ruling party and tends to lean with the 'ruling party'.
I think they consider Zanu PF to be the ruling party and side with it yet Zanu PF lost the March 2008 elections and should actually be considered the opposition at the moment.
Lets hope the summit resolves the deadlock and pave way for a unity government where all issues are resolved before hand.
This is hardly surprising with the way prices of goods has been rising but I am bit surprised that zero slashing seems to have been abandoned now.
In July 2008 when the situation had not reached the same level as it is now, RBZ slashed 10 zeros and was even bold enough to introduce coins.
This now seems like a long way ago now yet its only seven months but I expected the RBZ to cut the zeros again maybe last month this but it seems like it now wants to continue bringing higher denominated notes.
At the same time the local currency has become worthless and the economy is slowly being dollarised. I wonder what happened to sovereignty.
Dollarisation is affecting the ordinary people who do not earn in US dollars and when they go to change the local currency to US dollars they don't get much in return.
I think if goods are being sold in US dollars or any other currency for that matter then everybody should earn their salaries in that currency. This will make going to work worthwhile for most people and I don't think it is right now for most Zimbabweans.
I am now waiting to see what the next note will be but it appears some people are about world records of some sort.
An urgent passport will cost USD650 while an emergency travel document will cost USD50 which is more than the cost of normal passports for some countries.
A normal adult passport will cost USD120 and a replacement one will cost USD400. The passport form itself will not be free and it will cost USD20.
But it seems like there are no more normal passports for the time being meaning that the going rate for a new passport will be USD650 and this must surely be the most expensive passport in the world.
I don't think a lot of people will be able to afford these kind of figures and I don't know how the authorities can charge those kind of figures.
This time the RBZ is introducing $10-million, $50-million and $100-million notes after the price of goods has gone so high the previous notes had become useless.
I agree with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) that there should be no limit in what people can withdraw from their bank accounts.
If the RBZ would like to put limits then these must be on the ATM withdrawals but people who go into the banking hall must be allowed to get as much money as they want as long as they have it in their account.
Its up to the RBZ to make sure that there are enough notes in circulation because people cannot spend days queing to withdraw their money and by the time they get it it will be worthless.
In such an environment of high inflation I think people should be able to get their money when they need it because it becomes valueless so quickly.
Now the new limits are quoted as per week and that is very interesting. Maybe Gideon Gono the RBZ governor is trying to make sure that people only go to the bank once a week and get money they can use for the next three days or so and then struggle for another week to start and I think that is unacceptable.
Meanwhile, its sad to see that deteriorating situation has now lead to the spread of disease in the form of cholera and anthrax and I think the number of people who have died is probably six to ten times more than the number quoted in the official figures.
Its hard to see what can be done and quickly when the current defacto government of Robert Mugabe doesn't seem to
care about the people at all.
I am quite surprised that Sadc would come to such a bizarre suggestion and it seems it wanted to please Robert Mugabe.
If Sadc suggested that the Home Affairs be shared then should have gone ahead and suggested that Defence also be co-shared but then again where will be the sharing end.
It was an easy decision I think for the MDC to reject such a call but sadly it means we are nowhere nearer solving the crisis that affects so many millions of Zimbabweans.
Sadc helped create this situation by endorsing violent elections way back in 2002 and if they had acted then they wouldn't be all these problems I think.
Now they want to protect their mate by coming with a decision that favours Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe.
The question is where to now? I am also wondering whether this problem will ever be solved by talks and I am beginning to think its time that the people who matter make the decision.
The people who matter in this whole thing are Zimbabweans and I think its time to start organising fresh elections and let the people choose their own leader.
The Sadc agreement is too fragile to be the way forward for Zimbabwe and if there were elections supervised by the international community the people of Zimbabwe can freely choose their new leader who will cater for them and their needs.
Sadc is not interested and that explains why they were only five heads of state at the summit.
Zanu PF and the MDC signed the deal on sharing power on the 15th of September and were expected to decide on cabinet posts a few days after that but nearly two months later nothing has happened.
Now this full Sadc summit to be hosted by South Africa must solve this problem once and for all. I think that after this summit the proposed power sharing government can go ahead or that will be the end of it and another solution must be found which I think should be fresh elections.
I think the easiest way to resolve this impasse is to say that all ministries are up for grabs and the parties can in turn choose ministry after ministry until all the 31 ministries are decided. The Mutambara faction can choose its ministries at three points along the process.I think a toss of coin could be used to decide who picks the first ministry otherwise there could an argument about that as well.
The idea that one party comes to the table with ten or so ministries in the bag does not work especially if they are going to be equal partners in this power sharing government.
I think if the two parties fail to agree at this summit there is no need to call for another meeting on the same issue because it will be wasting people's time and I think the next solution would be to organise fresh elections to be held within the next three months or so.
I think this whole fiasco has made the situation on the ground worse and it has also shown that even when these two parties agree on the formulation of the cabinet its hard to imagine how they will work together to get the country going again.
This is the reason why I have said before that this arrangement must not be allowed to last a long time and all it has to do is facilitate a new constitution followed by elections and all this in less than two years.
I am thinking that whatever government will come out of this will be so unstable that things could be even worse and therefore maybe the best option is to have fresh elections and ditch this agreement way.
I fail to understand why Zanu PF wants both Defence and Home Affairs and then Foreign Affairs and then Information leaving the MDC with the minor ministries.
I also don't understand why something that looks so simple has become so big that every head of state in Sadc must come and try and resolve it.
The question is how will they resolve the bigger problems in the future especially problems with the run down economy when they cannot allocate ministries.
I heard that there was even talk of rotating the minister of Home Affairs. I think that is a non-starter because if you rotate Home Affairs then you should also rotate Defence and what about Information ministry? How far can the rotation go and who will be accountable in the end?
If they want rotation maybe they should have a complete swap of all ministries after one year.
That away every party gets their allocation of ministries and after they swap around all those ministries and after the end of the second year there would be fresh elections.
I don't think this arrangement should be given too much time because its already failing now and what about two years from now.
I think when the full Sadc summit is held it should simply say that there is a need for new free and fair elections monitored by the international community and whoever wins will take all the ministries and that way we have a government chosen by the people of Zimbabwe.
As these talks continue its becoming more and more apparent that this may not be what Zimbabwe needs at this time.
This delay is causing things to get worse than before. Round about this time farmers start preparing for the new rain season with some even planting crops but this year there could be very little of that leading to even more hunger next year.
The introduction of payment using foreign currency has made life even more unbearable for the ordinary people with prices out of reach for most people who do not earn much in US dollar terms.
Unless the full Sadc summit knows of a way of resolving this deadlock it might be a wait for nothing and things once again do not look as good after the highs of September 15.
South Africa's former President Thabo Mbeki failed to resolve the issue after four days and I hope that the regional summit will be able to tell the two parties what sharing basically means and doesn't mean.
It doesn't mean that one party takes all they want and leave the other party to feed from leftovers.
It looks like Zanu PF wants both Defence and Home Affairs something which doesn't make sense. Can they justify why they think they should get both ministries? How would they react if the MDC demanded both ministries too?
Like I said in my last post on the issue it looks like the whole thing is bound to fail very soon and that will be very disappointing to millions of Zimbabweans who are banking their hopes on the success of this agreement.
But I quite like the idea of fresh free and fair elections. I think that is the best solution because its better for the people to choose their own president rather having the leadership imposed by an agreement that is being discussed by less than ten people.
But I also think that the idea of fresh elections will not be popular with Zanu PF who know that it will be impossible for people to vote for them after the mess they have put the country in over the last 28 years.
I think this agreement is Zanu PF's best chance to stay in power and they can use the years within this agreement to try and regroup and possibly come with a replacement for Robert Mugabe who like everybody else is not getting any younger.
So I expected Zanu PF to try and make sure that the agreement worked. To give the MDC the Home Affairs ministry is not a concession at all on their part but it is common sense.
Also I don't think we should even be talking about them 'giving' ministries because this will be power sharing and everybody knows that Zanu PF lost the March 29 elections and therefore should be the opposition right now.
This deal gives them a second chance which maybe some may think they hardly deserve but at the moment its about people who need leaders to take the country forward.
Those ministries whoever has them has to work hard to make sure that Zimbabwe takes a step forward and that can only be achieved by total co-operation between the two sides.
I hope the Monday meeting will resolve the issue by simply putting all the ministries on the table and let each party take one after another. If Zanu PF picks defence then MDC can pick Home Affairs and so on and no one should pick a bundle first and then ask the other one to pick up the rest.
No party in the agreement is a left-overs party and this should be clear to both Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai. Lets
hope it works out.
Earlier in the year I used to follow these new currency introductions but have since lost track because it seems every few weeks there is a new note being introduced.
With official inflation at 231 million percent its hardly surprising that there is a need for a new note every now and again as the previous highest one fails to buy bread or pay for transport costs to work.
Also nothing is being done to fix the problems that make inflation so high and maybe until a new government is formed we will see new notes introduced and once again zeros cut.
All those zeros that were slashed a few months ago are slowly creeping back and prices for basic things will soon be in the millions again.
I think this is something that should have taken a day to do but it seems like Zanu PF wants to take all the key ministries and relegate the MDC to the role of a junior partner.
I think that will not work and this impasse alone seems to be a sign that this whole agreement is bound to fail.
I think in a government of national unity if somebody takes defence then the other party should take home affairs. Somebody cannot even say they want to take both because that's being very unreasonable.
If Zanu PF wants Home Affairs then they should give defence to the MDC and I think its as simple as that.
On the Finance ministry, Zanu PF has had this ministry for 28 years and look at what they have landed the country into and right now people can't even have access to their money which they should before it loses its value.
I also think that these cabinet positions should have been agreed before the agreement was signed because that would have made implementing the agreement quicker.
Right now as the leaders argue about positions the country's economic situation is getting worse and worse and lots of school children are not going to school as there are no teachers.
The University of Zimbabwe has been closed indefinitely and there are so many other things happening it would take a whole post to mention them.
Therefore its imperative that this cabinet stalemate is broken soon and if it needs Thabo Mbeki to intervene then I think the time to intervene is now.
Nearly two months after signing the Memorandum of Agreement today the deal was signed in front of other heads of state from the SADC region.
It was good to see that the signing ceremony was live on BBC and CNN and I was able to watch the whole proceedings from start to finish.
I was impressed with Tsvangirai and he has confidence that this deal will work and he thinks its the best opportunity for the country.
I hope that he goes on and delivers the promise to serve the people and get the country back working again or at least get some things working.
Mutambara dwelt a lot on the economy and I think he had a lot of ideas. I think what he said made some sense but I also think he looked far too forward and the basics have to be right to start with.
But then there was Mugabe's speech. This was a vintage Mugabe speech and as usual dwelt a lot on the history of the liberation struggle and the help offered by the neighbouring countries.
It was a long speech and only in the end did he talk about the deal. Unfortunately he doesn't seem to fully understand the problems facing the country at the moment but I also hope that he will do his best to make sure that the deal will be a success.
I also think Zanu PF needs some leaders who are forward looking to get their party going. Its good to reflect on the historical background but equally you have to focus on the challenges ahead and when Mugabe finally retires I wonder what kind of leader Zanu PF will get to replace him.
Now that the deal is signed its now down to parliament to make the necessary changes to the constitution and then it will be time for work.
I hope this chance will be utilised fully by all who are going to be elected into positions and that rule of law will be re-established and corrupt officials exposed or otherwise it could be yet another opportunity lost.
According to Mbeki the deal will be signed on Monday morning in Harare in a formal ceremony to be attended by other leaders from the SADC region.
Early this week I posted an article on the fact that Mbeki was on a rescue mission and indeed he has been successful and I think from now on it is up to the Zimbabwean leaders to make sure they work hard to serve the people who have been suffering for a long time from a self-serving government of Mugabe.
Although the full details of the deal have not been released yet and this will be done on Monday, its actually good that Mbeki has managed to a get a deal agreed because that's a positive for Zimbabwe in the current environment.
If things were normal there is no doubt that Tsvangirai would be the president today but things are what they are now unfortunately and I hope that from this deal will come out a people driven constitution that will lead to fresh elections and we will finally see the back of Zanu PF.
I don't think we will suddenly see a sudden resolution of the many Zimbabwe problems but at least there will somebody looking after the problems and trying to solve them compared to now where nobody has really cared about anything but just to be in power for the sake of it.
This deal will also mean that MDC are not on the sidelines when the next elections take place and therefore we can look forward to free and fair elections where everybody will be allowed to campaign freely.
I am keen to see the actual details of the deal but the fact that Tsvangirai has agreed to it means that its not as bad as the first proposal which had tried to make the MDC backseat passengers in a new proposed government.
It looked like it wasn't going to be this hard when the Memorandum of Agreement was signed but I think Mbeki made a mistake by coming with a draft agreement that seemed to favour Mugabe so much and now he is on a rescue mission to make sure the parties sign a deal that will make the country move forward.
I hope that by now Mbeki has realised that his original agreement is too Mugabe centric to be of any use to Morgan Tsvangirai and therefore he has to reverse a few things to make sure that Tsvangirai has more of a say in that so called new government of national unity or whatever they will call it.
All the delays so far means that the problems in Zimbabwe continue with prices continuing to rise but worst of all is the news of a cholera outbreak in Chitungwiza.
Nothing seems to be functioning at the moment with doctors and teachers on strike and that cannot be allowed to continued for much longer.
On that note a friend of mine wrote to me from Zimbabwe and this is what he had to say about the talks:
"As for talks, it’s rather better that Morgan Tsvangirai(MRT) refused to sign as he would have endorsed a bad deal and would have been relegated to ceremonial prime minister and got blamed for his failure in a GNU.
Authority or power goes hand in hand with accountability, yet MRT was asked to agree to a deal that would require him to be accountable to Robert Mugabe (RGM) but without the requisite executive authority &/or power.
The kind of agreement that is needed is one that will bring national healing and national or people’s trust in a GNU not one that necessarily makes RGM & his cronies feel safe.
An agreement that would translate to justice and food on the table for the common man is one that’s needed as that would enable people to trust the governmental system rather than to adopt a wait and see attitude.
Above all or in addition to the foregoing, we need an agreement that would unlock the much needed aid from the West – we really need that.
Forget about China & Russia & our fellow African AU & other unpatriotic (i.e. common people uncentred) states in SADC & AU – those have not helped us with anything that matters except to applaud RGM at international summits by calling on such notions as sovereignty and blaming everything else on sanctions and colonialism and imperialism.
Why should RGM complain about sanctions when he told Tony Blair at the Earth Summit in Cape town RSA some years back that “Keep your little Britain and I will keep my Zimbabwe”. One cannot behave as though the world wasn’t a global village and expect the global village to assist him.
There has been a paradigm shift in international relations and in the international body polity, no one even wants to colonies ZIM, its territorial integrity is not a threat from anyone. We do not want a kind of sovereignty in which we destroy ourselves as has happened in the last 28 years.
MRT should insist on an agreement that curtails the powers of the state machinery – ZNA, ZRP, CIO, AFZ, etc; and empowers the Judiciary and other civil state institutions. He should just not be relegated to solving the economic mess as RGM & his kleptocracy will be working 24/7 to sabotage him just to make a political point and gain political mileage from their African compatriots.
MRT should realize that any agreement will put him on the hot seat of sorting out the mess that RGM & Company has brought upon ZIM – some kind of probationary period that if he & MDC fails, they might just have begun writing their political obituary. I think like MRT even said, “better no deal than a bad one”.
A bad deal will not unlock Western Aid & the official &/or unofficial sanctions, will not make business and commerce and the common man cooperate and stop stashing their forex in off shore accounts, will not lift ZIM from its quagmire and most of all will lead to MRT & MDC being blamed by ZANU-PF & Company for failing to stop the Titanic Ship from sinking.
Most of our fellow African brothers and sisters having been calling for a homegrown or African solution to an African problem, but for almost a decade now they have failed dismally in Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda, Dafur-Sudan, except in one island country where they toppled a military junta and very limited success in DRC.
There are about 5 more long serving Presidents in Africa with a lot of democratic deficits and drought of good governance who supported RGM at the Egypt Summit. What would you expect of Gaddaffi, Omar Bongo, Sudan’s Omar Al Bashir, Equatorial Guinea, Hosni Mobarik, Dos Santos. These are all long serving leaders and will see no reason why RGM can just one more term.
We thank GOD for people that love fellow Africans enough to be honest and tell the truth, these are, Rwanda, Liberia, Lesotho, Botswana, Nigeria, Zambia, etc. Mozambique is kind of on the borderline or trying to play it safe, but those guys are fed up by ZIM’s man made problems."
I hope Mbeki will be successful in his rescue mission because after all the political posturing and so on there are people's live at stake here and these I think should be the priority and hence the need to come up with a fair and equitable agreement that can take Zimbabwe forward again.
The parliament was dissolved before the March 29 elections and the new Members of Parliament had to wait for just under five months to be sworn in to the new parliament.
Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC won the Speaker of Parliament post with Lovemore Moyo becoming the first non Zanu PF MP to be elected speaker.
Zanu PF did not enter a candidate for the speaker's post but instead choose to vote for MDC Mutambara's candidate Paul Themba Nyathi. I don't think for the MDC Mutambara faction to survive it needs Zanu PF support but its good that the majority of the MDC Mutambara faction choose to vote for Moyo instead.
That should tell Mutambara that he may try to align himself with Mugabe but the majority in his party may not favour that and its something that he needs to correct now because I don't think that the majority of his 10 MPs are suddenly going to go with Zanu PF now when they have opposed it all these years.
I suppose had Nyathi won, Zanu PF would have asked for a favour next time from MDC Mutambara having helped their own to be speaker and its good it did not work.
The interesting thing is that Zanu PF is now the opposition party but MDC cannot be called the ruling party because Robert Mugabe still remains president.
With the talks stalling these are going to be some interesting weeks for Zimbabwe. With the way things are at the moment, Mugabe will have to choose a new cabinet from his party which for the first time no longer enjoys the majority that it has had a monopoly on for the last 28 years.
The problem is that not much will be achieved by this new parliament unless some sort of deal can be reached between Tsvangirai and Mugabe. Zimbabwe cannot afford to waste any more time now with the economy now in total ruins but at the same time Zimbabwe cannot afford a deal which gives Mugabe total control of power because he has had it for all these years and now look where he has taken the country.
I am beginning to lose hope in the current mediation process being done by South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa but unfortunately as it stands now its hard to see if there is another option. The mediator should have been replaced in the first place but that did not happen and now looks like a real messy.
You cannot allow a situation where the people of Zimbabwe continue to suffer even more until the whole system breaks down and so I hope a compromise will be reached soon to get the country back on track.
I haven't read a report that suggests the leader of the smaller MDC faction Arthur Mutambara is there at the summit and so I am wondering whether he will take no part in this phase of the talks or is it just that the media hasn't really mentioned his name.
I think Tsvangira is right to demand real power because that will make him accountable for whatever happens in that new setup. Also that will enable the much needed international funding to come through to the new administration.
However, if he is not given real power and is part of the government then he will be blamed for everything and he will be worse off and its better to stay out of it altogether.
I think Mugabe has ruled for a very long time and should not be clamouring for much more power because I don't think he has nothing new to offer and therefore it is better to transfer the day to day running of the country to Tsvangirai.
I also thought that Zanu PF could take advantage of these talks and have their successor strategically placed because all I read is about Mugabe who is 84 and not getting any younger.
I think this is the reason why Zanu PF are said to be keen for a five year transitional government because that will give them time to sort out the succession issue. I cannot see them offering an 89 year old candidate in 2013.
I hope the Sadc talks will move towards positive territory and I hope the other leaders will see that Tsvangirai's demands are realistic and should be honoured and put the necessary pressure on Mugabe.
The second day is actually a Heroes Day public holiday which is a day when Zimbabweans honour the men and women who died in the liberation war.
I think its getting clearer that it looks like what will emerge will be a government of national unity of some sort and it is the detail that a lot of people will be concerned about.
Firstly, I think that the new government should be in charge for a very short time preferably less than two years with a mandate to change the constitution and organise fresh elections which should be free and fair. If all that could be done in less than one year that could be even better but I think you need more time to come up with good results.
It will effectively be a transitional government that will restore justice and peace to Zimbabweans and restore freedom of speech and movement.
However, if the talks fail that could be a different scenario altogether. It will mean that things will get worse in Zimbabwe especially economically and I can't imagine what kind of scenario that will be.
But I hope the talks will not fail but I also hope that Morgan Tsvangirai will not give in to anything just to make the talks successful.
I think its better for the MDC to be in government at least to make sure that the next elections will be free and fair. To me thats the key because I think the MDC will win any election that's free and fair but if its not then thats a different kettle of fish altogether.
I will now wait to see what the second day of talks will yield.
Two years ago, the Gideon Gono, the Reserver Bank Governor cut three zeros but the problems that caused that inflation have never been resolved and so since then the situation has become worse and worse.
Early this month a $100 billion note was was introduced and this could not buy a loaf of bread at the time of its introduction and so its not surprising that this time they have now gone to cut off a whooping ten zeros.
That $100 billion note will now be worth $100 dollars and the highest note will now be $500.
What I find surprising is the fact that they want to re-introduce coins. I think these coins will be worthless very soon and nobody will be using them in a few months time because the problems causing the inflation have not been resolved and therefore inflation will remain high still.
So Zimbabweans have just come from being billionaires to nothing overnight and I think this zero slashing exercise should be done often to protect people from such high numbers like trillions to buy basic stuff or to pay for bus fare.
Arthur Mutambara of the minor MDC faction also signed the agreement to start talks that could lead to a new government being formed and start tackling the country's multitude of problems.
I think this is a good move because nothing has been happening for some time now and yet things have continued to get worse for the ordinary people because there has been a leadership vacuum in Zimbabwe for some time now.
I think the MDC didn't have much of a choice but I think the mediator should have been changed from South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki to somebody else and if they wanted somebody from a neighbouring country they could have gone for one of Botswana's former presidents.
Mbeki doesn't seem to see the gravity of the situation in Zimbabwe and he appears too sympathetic to Mugabe but I hope that this is his last chance to mediate in this situation.
I don't think a government of national unity will be a good thing unless its term is limited to something like two years but I would happy that there would be a transitional government that will organise another set of elections in six to twelve months.
I think Zanu PF will go for a unity government because as opposed to a transitional government because if free and fair elections are held again chances of them winning are very slim moreso after the recent violence.
On a positive note the good thing about MDC in government is that they will be able to foresee the whole process and make sure that nobody is above the law.
Fairness is critical in Zimbabwe where the opposition has been treated so badly that you would think they are an illegal party but I hope these talks will realise that the current problems cannot continue to go on but its time to start solving although that wont be easy.
We will see what happens in two weeks time and I hope they will agree on a new constitution that will take the country on a new path.
This is not surprising when official inflation stands at 2.2 million percent and I think the problem is that they are not introducing high enough notes.
At this point it was better to introduce a $1 trillion note as the highest denomination because the $100 billion will not be worth that much especially in an environment of such high inflation.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduces a higher note when people are already looking past it.
I am also hoping that the introduction of the $100 billion note will mean that the daily maximum withdrawal limit will be
increased to a higher value possibly a trillion dollars.
The AU totally ignored that the June run-off elections were declared neither free nor fair and in calling for a GNU they it means they don't have to consider how the elections were conducted.
Once again what is the purpose of observers when whatever they said is even ignored by organisations like the AU.
Another surprising thing is for the AU to ask South Africa's president Thabo Mbeki to continue his mediation process. His process, approach or method he is using has clearly failed and this was a chance for the AU to call for a change for in the mediator.
The biggest problem for Mbeki I think is his failure to see and admit that there is a big problem in Zimbabwe and that the country has been at a standstill for a long time. Remember his "no crisis" jibe?
Being the mediator he should have been the first to condemn the elections because he is closer to the action than anybody else but he says nothing as if nothing happened.
So I will wait and see what the UN will now do and also I am keen to see whether SADC will convene yet another meeting and see what they say.
But clearly these meetings don't seem to know that the issue at hand needs urgent attention
and help the ordinary people of Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission claim that nearly as many people as voted in the Zimbabwe March 29 election but this time the counting and announcing of results has been super quick.
This to me raises a lot of questions as to why there was such a delay in announcing the results of the March elections and yet this time its been very quick.
But that is nothing compared to the swearing in which was done less than 48 hours after the polls closed on election day.
The MPs of the March 29 are still to be sworn in more than three months after the election and so far there is no date has been set for their swearing in.
This shows the uneven ground in the Zimbabwe political landscape. It looks like it depends on who is winning.
Another interesting issue is that the poll observers have said the elections were neither free nor fair. What I would like to see is what the other African countries are going to do about that.
If they do nothing then it means elsewhere in Africa you can go and intimidate the opposition and do whatever you want and never care about the poll observers because their observations carry no weight.
That is very sad if that were to happen and so I expect the groups that send observers to do or at least say something otherwise there will no need for poll observers again in African elections.
So after his quick swearing in Robert Mugabe jetted to Egypt to be among fellow head of states at the AU summit and if there was a chance for the renamed OAU to get some sort of respect this would be it.
If they say nothing like nothing has happened in Zimbabwe then that organisation will lack credibility especially in the eyes of Zimbabweans who suffering seem set to continue unabated.
Citing increasing violence and intimidation directed at his supporters Tsvangirai decided to pull out of the election altogether which I think was a very wise move.
With the nature of the economy alone, Tsvangirai didn't need to campaign but when he tried to campaign it became increasingly clear that it was being made difficult for him and thus talk of a free and fair election went out through the window.
So the run-off became a one-man election but there are still some interesting things to consider.
I am keen to see how long it will take to announce the results of this election. It took nearly a month last time to announce the results when it was clear that Robert Mugabe had lost and with him supposedly winning this time lets see how long it will take to announce the result.
Another thing to look out for is how long it will take to swear him in as president. The elected MPs from the March 29 election have not yet being sworn in and yet I understand that they are supposed to be sworn in within one week of announcing the results.
I think the reason why the MPs have not been sworn in is because that would effectively make Zanu PF the opposition because MDC have a majority in parliament. I don't think Zanu PF is prepared to be called the opposition just yet and hence the delay.
And then there is the SADC element. These elections were below the Sadc standard whatever it is and therefore I am also keen to see how Sadc will react.
I think Sadc did well to say that the election should be delayed until there were conditions conducive for a free and fair election but now that the election has gone ahead I would like to see their reaction.
Sadc has proved to be a toothless bulldog in this Zimbabwe situation and they have let it go well out of hand and many will point out that South Africa president's softly approach is to blame but I think Sadc as a whole should shoulder the blame because they are the ones who appointed Mbeki in the first place.
I think its going to be some interesting few weeks for Zimbabwe but sadly the economic conditions have gone from bad to worse in the interim making life even more difficult for the ordinary Zimbabweans.
The ordinary Zimbabweans should be Sadc's concern but for now as usual their concern is for the leaders whilst
ordinary people go without basic necessities that are taken for granted elsewhere in the region.
These are the kind of words you dont hear often referred to money but because the Zimbabwe dollar has lost so much value even trillion dollars is not much to talk to about.
Now the notes have broken the 1 billion dollar mark and now there is a 5 billion dollar note and its not surprising to see that doubled in the next few days.
Surprisingly enough there is no talk of removing the zeros this time and now the trend seems to just up the highest denomination. I think the question on most people's mouth is how this can be sustained.
I think zeros were to be removed, instead of removing three like last time, six would be the ideal number if that were to happen. But then again this is all short term solutions and short term here means a week. What is needed is a long term solution and so far there seems to be nothing in the pipeline.
That was a quick doubling of the highest note and now it seems the the billion dollar note will be around the corner and this shows how bad inflation is in Zimbabwe.
And as these new notes are introduced I don't see any signs of anything being done to curb the rampant inflation and so I am now beginning to wonder whether the RBZ will soon have to remove three zeroes or better still six zeroes because the numbers are getting bigger and bigger by the day.
I think this is biggest jump so far and nobody can now argue that a new $1 billion dollar note is far off.
In December the highest note was $750,000 and then January saw the introduction of the $10 million dollar note which stayed on top until after the elections when the $50 million note was introduced.
Also this week the Zimbabwe currency was floated in an effort to counter the thriving black market and its early days to tell whether its having any success.
So its anybody's guess now whether in June or maybe July we will see the new $1 billion note.
According to the released results Morgan Tsvangirai got 47.9 %, Robert Mugabe 43.2 % and Simba Makoni a distant third with 8.3 %.
So a run-off is required to decide the winner and I think that Morgan Tsvangirai stands a very good chance of winning if the elections can be held in a free and fair environment which looks unlikely after the recent reports of widespread violence and intimidation of opposition supporters.
I was surprised to see that Makoni actually got just over 8 % of the vote but that vote will now be crucial in the run-off and I am sure most of the people who voted Makoni are likely going to vote for Tsvangirai.
I also think that there is a going to be an even higher turn up in this election because with MDC having parliamentary majority people will know that their vote will count a lot this time.
I think the recent violence will not help Mugabe in any way and if anything it will make people more determined to vote against him. Its going to be interesting also to see what he will promise if he wins because the economy has become worse over the past month.
I read last week that the MDC were not keen on the run-off saying that Tsvangirai won outright but I think what they should do is contest the run-off and make sure there are many election observers for this election on the ground and that they should stay until the announcement of the result.
The ZEC also should promise people that it will not take another month to announce the results of the run-off. The wait for the results has been far too long and the run-off results should be announced as soon as possible after all this is just one election.
I will be keeping an eye on the events in Zimbabwe and I hope the conditions will improve greatly over the next few days to make sure that as many people as possible are able to freely cast their votes.
I expected Sadc to at least demand that the results be announced immediately but for some reason Sadc thinks there is still need for a delay to announce results for just over two million people who voted in the Zimbabwe elections.
Sadc even failed to recognize the intimidation of opposition supporters by Zanu PF supporters that is being reported from around the country and that alone will not make the runoff free and fair should it take place.
If Sadc thinks there is going to be a runoff then they should send their observers now to monitor the situation and then should one be needed for real then they can stay until the runoff result is announced.
I think the Sadc observers should not have left the country altogether in the first place until all the election results were announced and continue staying there until any runoff was completed and the accompanying results announced.
Also say there is a runoff what guarantee is there that the results will be announced quickly? There should be a time limit of at least two or three days before the election results are announced especially when all the counting is done at the polling stations.
I think this was a chance lost for Sadc to recover some lost ground on the Zimbabwe situation but at least it looks like there are some leaders in there like Zambia's Levy Mwanawase who are concerned whilst others like South Africa's Thabo Mbeki think everything is fine even when pictures of burnt houses are appearing in all news media.
Although Sadc managed to get changes made to the Electoral Act in Zimbabwe through Thabo Mbeki's mediation process, I still think that for a long time Sadc has stood and watched as events in Zimbabwe deteriorated.
I wonder why the situation is allowed to deteriorate to such an extent before somebody acts.
Sadc should serve the interests of the people but right now it appears to only serve the interests of the leaders.
This time the situation has got worse with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) not releasing the presidential election results nearly two weeks after the election and for no apparent reason and I am keen to see what Sadc will do.
If Sadc withdraws their support for Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe that will be a good step but I doubt that Sadc will do that.
Sadc should demand that the results be released and immediately and I think anything short of that will be a failure.
Its interesting to see that the Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete is also the current Chairperson of the African Union which has been very silent on this issue and maybe its not surprising why because he seems to have so much respect for Mugabe.
The issue of the release of the election results has been dragging for a long time now and I wonder under what conditions the results will be finally be released.
This is a very bizarre situation which I hope will never be repeated anywhere as it creates unnecessary tension among the electorate and moreso when the results are not surprising to anyone.
Its good to see that the Zimbabweans have been very patient so far and I hope they continue to be because at one point the results will be released and if a run-off is called for chances of Morgan Tsvangirai winning will have increased so much.
In the past Zanu PF has enjoyed the majority of seats and also previously they used to have the 30 seats which the President Robert Mugabe could always use to make up for any shortfall and so with say 50 seats out of 120 Zanu PF could easily end up with 80 after using the 30 seats but not anymore.
In the new parliament all the 210 MPs need to be elected with the only appointees found in the Senate.
Things have now also changed with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) having made in-roads in the so-called Zanu PF strongholds in the rural areas.
The current economic problems have meant that some people who once lived in the cities but lost their jobs as the economy shrunk have now moved to the rural areas and carried on supporting the MDC and influencing others to do so as well.
Also the economic problems are affecting the whole country including the rural areas and people know that its Zanu PF as the ruling party that has dragged them into those problems.
Therefore there is nowhere for Zanu PF to hide and indeed these are interesting times for a party that was used to landslides.
Had the opposition gone into these elections united Zanu PF could have had less than the 97 seats that they currently have as I counted at least 13 constituencies where the combined MDC vote was more than the Zanu PF vote.
Now the problem is that the wait for the presidential elections continues and if Morgan Tsvangirai does not get more than half the votes then there should be a run off.
In the event of a run off Tsvangirai should easily win because a lot of the people who did not vote on March 29 are likely going to come and vote especially when they know its their vote that could end Mugabe's rule.
Also the other supporters of Simba Makoni and Arthur Mutambara are more likely to vote Tsvangirai than Mugabe.
Meanwhile the economic meltdown continues with the new $25 and $50 million dollar notes introduced today and if this continues who knows there could be a $200 million dollar note soon.
I wonder why there has been such a delay when most of the votes have been counted and people can see the results outside the polling stations.
In the presidential election President Robert Mugabe will be trying to hold on to power for another term but this time unofficial results from the MDC seem to suggest that he could have lost the election.
Mugabe didn't only have the challenge of Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC but also of former finance minister Simba Makoni who managed to get substantial support in a short space of time. I wonder what could have happened had he launched his bid earlier.
I cant wait to see the official results because at the end of the day those are the ones that count.
Notably policemen will now be able to enter the polling stations and help the frail and elderly and also it has been reported that the presidential votes will be counted centrally.
The so called Simba Makoni backers who were supposed to be revealed nearer to the polling date as the rumour went have so far not been revealed but I don't know whether it will make much of a difference anyway.
Morgan Tsvangirai has once again proved popular with his rallies well attended in both the rural and urban areas which should give him confidence.
On the other hand Robert Mugabe continues to campaign for re-election although he is still to host a major rally in Bulawayo where both his major rivals have already done so.
Langton Towungana seems like the least active candidate and I don't think he will have much of an impact unless he comes blazing over the next seven days.
Back to the latest changes, I don't understand why policemen should be allowed to help anybody vote. That is the role of the polling officers.
Polling officers should be able to help anybody who needs any sort of help or explanation and I don't know why police in particular have to be involved.
Maybe the Zimbabwe police get training in polling but even then its better to train the polling officers or employ more of them if thats what is needed.
Counting votes centrally doesn't seem to make sense to me either. If you count the other votes at the polling station why then lift the ballot box for the one of the elections to get them counted elsewhere and by whom.
This brings a lot of questions like who will accompany the ballot boxes all the way to the central area and also why go to such a cost when the country supposedly does not have the money.
Also what about some ballot papers that could have been put inside the presidential ballot box by mistake. How are these returned especially if they have come from a far away polling station? Will they be declared as spoilt? If you count at the polling station you just place the ballot paper in the correct pile and thats it.
These kind of changes make a complex election process even more complex and I think if they should be introduced it should be done at the start of the election so that everybody knows the rules upfront.
I hope there are no more changes in the last seven days before the election and I will try to
follow the events closely through the Zimbabwe
Cyril Ndebele, a former speaker of parliament also came out to voice his support for Makoni but I think it is Dabengwa's support that is the most significant.
By aligning up with people like Dabengwa, I think Makoni has made sure that he will get most of the Matabeleland Zanu PF vote and that will be quite significant in his bid to become president.
However, Matebeleland has lately become more MDC than Zanu PF and that could be the only problem but he will also be counting on the Mutambara faction vote.
Dabengwa comes untainted by the corruption that has bedeviled Zanu PF and although he is in the politburo he hasn't been active in government for some time and I think that will benefit the Makoni vote.
Now that Dabengwa and Ndebele have publicly shown their support for Makoni I am wondering who
else will come out in support of him as the election day draws nearer.
I think the real interesting thing for me is that the winner has to have at least 51% of the votes and failing that there will be a run-off between the two top candidates and in that case that brings the question of who will come third.
I think its realistic to think that both Tsvangirai and Makoni will get more than 20% percent of the votes and their total votes will be more than 50% and if that were to happen then there will be a run-off and thats where things could become interesting and I will briefly look at the different scenarios.
If Makoni finishes third then it means Mugabe will have to face Tsvangirai in a repeat of the 2002 Presidential elections. The winner will depend on whether Makoni's supporters will go for Mugabe or Tsvangirai.
In the event that Tsvangirai finishes third then the run-off will be between Makoni and Mugabe. I think in that case Makoni would win because most of Tsvangirai's supporters will be more likely to vote for Makoni and not Mugabe.
The last scenario would be the most interesting one and that will be if Mugabe finishes third. That means Makoni will run against Tsvangirai and Mugabe's supporters will for the first time see a presidential election not featuring Mugabe and they will have to choose between Makoni and Tsvangirai and I think that will be a very uncomfortable decision indeed for them to make.
I think if the third scenario were to happen then that will be the hardest run-off to call.
I am still to read about what Langton Towungana has to offer but I doubt he will cause problems to the other three
Since the start of the year there had been rumours that Makoni was going to start a new party drawing its leadership mostly from the ruling party but he will instead be standing as an independent candidate which is a very interesting scenario.
So I think both the ruling party and the opposition must be wondering whether Makoni is a friend or not. For a start I think Makoni will draw support from disgruntled Zanu PF supporters as well as dissatisfied MDC supporters but the question is how much will that support be and will that be enough to carry him over the line.
A lot of questions are flying already and one of them is how many people will be prepared to vote for an independent presidential candidate and then how independent will he be. Also is an independent president the way to go for Zimbabwe or is a party sponsored candidate a better one since he or she will be answerable at least to his party.
In his speech he suggested that he will form a government of national unity but what stops him from drawing most of his cabinet from the Zanu PF since he supposedly knows them better.
For the opposition MDC they have problems of their own after their split but I think they should fear that he will take most of his support from the urban areas because those are the people who are likely to know who Makoni is. That should be a worry for the MDC.
In the rural areas I doubt he will have much in-road especially as he doesn't have a party to rally around him but will be depending on his name to get through. I don't think Zanu PF will be very much worried about that.
But to me the big question remains: why did he leave it until so late? Will he be able to dissociate himself from the policies of a government he was so closely linked until this week?
I think we will see some of the answers when he goes on the campaign trail and start asking people to vote for him and not Robert Mugabe or Morgan Tsvangirai and tell them that he is the answer to Zimbabwe's mounting problems.
To finish off I think its a good thing that he has come out to challenge Zanu PF and I think that has taken a lot of bravery on his part but he has a lot of work to do if he is going to win the presidential election.
This figure is not surprising given that in December 2007 three notes of $200,000, $500,000 and $750,000 were introduced by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the highest note could not buy a loaf of bread because the price had already gone beyond a million dollars.
Therefore in January three more notes were introduced and this time they were for $2 million, $5 million and $10 million and this time the highest note could at least buy three loaves of bread.
Less than three years an idea was hatched to remove three zeros and that would put today's prices into billions.
I think that as long the fundamental economic problems are not solved and corruption is tackled head
on the inflation rate will continue to rise but right now it seems like nobody is interested in that
at all with ruling party Zanu PF focusing on the upcoming elections scheduled for the end of March.
Following the devaluation one US dollar will now buy 30,000 Zimbabwe dollars on the official market but what makes it interesting is the fact that the black market rate is more than ten times the official new rate.
I think the Zimdollar should have been devalued earlier to help catch the black market rate but I think that was never a favoured move and this time it looks like there was no other option but to have this devaluation.
Also one may argue that devaluing the currency without solving the other problems that are causing the economy to collapse will just mean the black market rate just flies away and that it true.
I am waiting to see what other measures will be brought up as elections near
possibly in the first half of next year.
This is because of the introduction of the so-called 'inflation police' who have been going into shops and ordering prices to be reduced mostly by half and the prices are reduced on the spot.
The interesting bit is that the moment the prices are reduced, swarms of shoppers invade the shops and buy almost everything in the shop leaving the shop empty.
I have been reading that that some that people are buying goods like shoes that they do not need at all just because the prices have plummeted and you can't blame them in a country where prices are known to go up on a day to day basis.
Fighting inflation with this inflation force is one of the short-term economic or political strategies that you see from time to time as the Zimbabwe government tries to find ways of mending the economy that more or less doesn't exist anymore.
Its also interesting to see how far this will go because already some shops have now no reason to stock goods that they will sell at give-away prices and therefore in the end the consumer has nothing to buy.
As said before what's needed are long-term solutions to the problems that besiege the southern African nation and not these short term solutions that will just give rise to yet other problems.
Lets wait and see what the inflation figure will be at the end of this month.
There has been a lot of news coming from Zimbabwe over the last few weeks since the Movement for Democratic Change(MDC) leaders were arrested and allegedly beaten up in police custody and now Sadc has realised they cant just look at the situation and hope it goes away.
Now that the meeting has taken place, Sadc has agreed that South African President Thabo Mbeki should try to promote political dialogue inside Zimbabwe. From what I have read so far no time limit has been set and so this can take as long as it takes and no detail has been given on how its going to be done.
Its a good start at least on the part of Sadc to come along and try and arrange talks between the opposing forces in the Zimbabwe crisis but this has been going on for a long time now that Sadc should have taken action a long time now. Maybe its a question of better late than never.
Being the regional grouping for the Southern African region, a lot is expected from Sadc not only regarding the situation in Zimbabwe but also the other member Sadc countries. One cannot expect the African Union (AU) to do anything at all because to me it looks like the AU is mostly concerned about the African leaders only with not much attention given to the African people.
I wonder whether something would have been done had Sadc been more proactive like West African regional grouping Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas). At least Ecowas has tried to bring on dialogue when problems have occurred in Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone with a degree of success.
Now I am waiting to see Mbeki try and promote dialogue between Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe and the leaders of the two factions of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara and the other relevant parties.
After the initial speeches and fanfare, I wonder where he is now. I haven't seen him in the headlines for some time now and I wonder whether he has fizzled out or maybe he is busy planning the strategy for the 2008 Presidential elections.
If the constitution doesn't get changed then the next presidential elections in Zimbabwe are going to be held next year and it should be interesting to see how Mutambara will fare in his
This is why its interesting to see that the Al-Jazeera International network has been welcome. This to me raises the question of whether they have agreed to some special conditions or not but we will see with their coverage in the coming weeks and months. Any international news network would understandably be interested in setting up offices in Zimbabwe given that the country is at the moment is newsworthy with so many 'unique' things happening like the currency issue right now. But its also not the best of places to report from as we saw with Andrew Meldrum and others and it would be interesting to see how Al-Jazeera International will fare where many others have failed.
All in all its good news that the news network has been allowed in the first place to set up offices but what I hope for is that Al-Jazeera International will be able to report news as they happen and as accurately as they can. This means that when people's shelter is destroyed and no replacement is made available, they will show the pictures and footage of those events, when people starve when the government claims there is abundant food they will report on that, this is not asking for sensationalism or something like that but just pure facts and figures.
Al-Jazeera will gain a lot of respect from Zimbabweans and friends of
Zimbabwe alike when they go about their job in a professional manner and report on things
the way they are and as they happen. So its good they have opened their offices and now we
wait to see the news they will be filing.
You can imagine a store till that was purchased five years ago and handling bread at say Z$195 in 2002 now being asked four years later to handle the same bread but at a staggering Z$200,000. This is just bread but what about things like lounge suites, let alone cars and houses. Those in Zimbabwe could update me on how much some of these things now cost but whatever they cost now the bottom line is the number of zeroes has increased.
The interesting part are the proposed solutions to all this. What I found most intriguing is the concept of the
kilo dollar. The kilo dollar according to a Sunday Mirror article would be worth Z$1000. I think all these
ideas are just short term ones because this looks like an economy that needs a long term fix.