Letter to the voters of Khumalo Senatorial
Constituency March 2008 24 March 2008 ? Posted by David Coltart ? Filed under | Letters | Constituency | MDC issues
Dear Voter in the Khumalo Senatorial Constituency,
On the 29th March 2008 you have the chance to change the course of Zimbabwean history for
the better. Zimbabwe is in such a terrible state that we do not have the luxury of making a
mistake. Another 5 years of Zanu PF rule will completely destroy Zimbabwe.
In football terms Zimbabwe was in the Premier league in 1980. Since then it has had the same
coach, Robert Mugabe, and his assistants, Zanu PF. In 28 years Mugabe has taken the
Zimbabwean team from the Premier league to the bottom of the 4th social league. Next season
we will not even be able to play football because the players have no boots, balls or kit. The goal
posts have fallen down and ground is overgrown. A football team would never keep such a coach
– if Zimbabwe is to have any future it simply must end Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF’s rule.
Vote for Parliamentarians and Councillors who have Bulawayo at Heart
In this election you will be able to vote for President, Senate, House of Assembly and Bulawayo
City Council. I think it is important to separate the decision you have to make between voting for
President on the one hand and Parliament and Council on the other hand. Let me first address the
issue of voting for Senate, House of Assembly and Council. When you vote for these offices I
believe the most important question you have to ask is “Who will best represent my interests and
the interests of Bulawayo and Matabeleland in Parliament and in Council?”
In answering this question I think it obvious that Zanu PF MPs and Senators have failed
Bulawayo and Matabeleland for the 28 years they have been in power. That effectively leaves
you with a choice between the MDC (which I am standing for) and the MDC (Tsvangirai) parties.
There is a lot of confusion caused by the split in the MDC and that may make your decision
difficult. In such a situation it is important to look back on the record of the different candidates
over the last 3 decades because a person’s past gives an insight into how they are likely to
represent you in future. The MDC leaders, including Gibson Sibanda, Welshman Ncube, Paul
Temba Nyathi, Japhet Ndabeni Ncube, and I are all people with a long and consistent track
record of standing up for the rights of Zimbabweans and, importantly, for standing up for the
interests of the citizens of Bulawayo and Matabeleland. In contrast the local candidates of the
MDC (Tsvangirai), such as its Vice President Thoko Khupe, are relative newcomers who are
largely dependant on Morgan Tsvangirai’s profile and support for their own status and position.
In other words they are not strong and independent leaders in their own right and cannot be
relied upon to put the interests of Bulawayo and Matabeleland first in Parliament. They will
always have to be subservient to the interests of the leadership in Harvest House in Harare.
Some have expressed concern that our informal alliance with Simba Makoni will reduce our
independence. This will not be the case. Our arrangement is nothing like the 1987 unity accord
when Zanu PF swallowed up Zapu. All we are doing is endorsing Simba Makoni’s candidacy for
President; we are not joining his political organisation. If I am elected I will be elected as an
MDC Senator and will be able to vote in the Senate in accordance with my conscience and our
MDC policy. In other words we will be able to vote for or against Makoni’s proposed policies
when we so choose. Ironically by choosing not to stand against us in any of the seats in
Bulawayo Simba Makoni showed that he was far more respectful of Bulawayo’s local leadership
than the MDC (Tsvangirai) was. In this regard please note that there are no Makoni candidates
standing against any of us – the two people purporting to stand on the Makoni ticket in this area
have not been endorsed by the Makoni campaign and are just seeking to ride on the Makoni
Accordingly if you are looking for strong, independent and consistent leadership in Parliament
and Council in the Khumalo Senatorial area then I believe that it is more likely to be provided by
our MDC team. I have been a human rights lawyer in Bulawayo for 25 years and have always
stood up for the rights of the people of Matabeleland. Likewise Japhet Ndabeni Ncube, House of
Assembly candidate for Bulawayo Central, has the outstanding record of standing up against
Zanu PF for 7 years since 2001 as Mayor. He fiercely represented the interests of the victims of
Murambatsvina and almost single-handedly prevented ZINWA from taking over our water
supplies. I have known Yasmine Toffa, our House of Assembly candidate for Bulawayo East, for
over 20 years and although a relative newcomer to politics she has always demonstrated in her
life a heart for the downtrodden and I have no doubt that the three of us will work well together
as a team representing your interests in Parliament without fear or favour. Likewise our five
Council candidates, Beauty Kerr (Ward 1), Stephen Mkwananzi (Ward 2), Michaki Ngwenya
(Ward 3), Paul Malaba (Ward 4) and Dr. Garry Ferguson (Ward 5) are all outstanding members
of our team who will forcefully and effectively represent your interests in the Bulawayo City
Council. I do not believe that you can have the same confidence in the candidates put forward by
the MDC (Tsvangirai).
Who will beat Mugabe?
There are 3 serious contenders for the office of President, namely Robert Mugabe, Morgan
Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni. For the reason mentioned above no one in their right mind can
possibly vote for the coach that has been in control of the Zimbabwean team for 28 years and has
all but ruined it. Accordingly you will have to choose between Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba
Makoni. In making this decision you need to answer a different question to the one posed above
regarding the Parliamentary and Council elections. If Robert Mugabe is the person who has been
in charge for 28 years and who is responsible for the destruction of our country it follows that
until he goes we will not be able to start rebuilding our lives and our country. Accordingly the
most important question we have to ask as we go into the voting booth is: “Who of Morgan
Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni is most likely to defeat Robert Mugabe?”
In answering this question there is no point in being sentimental because our country has no
more time left. It is imperative that we remove Robert Mugabe from office – that is all important
because until we do so the horrors Zimbabwe is experiencing will just continue. In answering the
question we must consider hard facts, not propaganda, because elections are won by people who
manage to get the most ballots in their favour in the box – and in Zimbabwe by people who are
best able to protect their ballots so that they are correctly counted. We cannot allow ourselves to
be persuaded by propaganda such as exaggerated claims of numbers of people attending rallies –
a tactic used by Zanu PF for so long and now being used by the MDC (Tsvangirai) as well. Accordingly in answering the question we must consider the following facts:
1. Who ever captures the rural the rural vote will win
Approximately 60% of Zimbabweans live in the rural areas. It follows that a Presidential candidate cannot win an election unless he or she manages to get substantial support from rural voters. That is made especially difficult in Zimbabwe because of Zanu PF’s control of food and the flow of information to rural areas. It has been exceptionally difficult for the opposition to make inroads into most rural areas which have effectively been no go areas. One of the most shocking revelations I had as Legal Secretary of the formerly united MDC was when we finally managed to examine the Presidential ballot boxes from the 2002 election in late 2005. When we launched the court challenge against Mugabe’s March 2002 election I had always thought that Mugabe had only won through massive fraud and rigging. What surprised me when we examined the voting materials in 2005 was that although there was some fraud and rigging, and that Morgan Tsvangirai had actually won the election, his margin of victory was relatively small – only about 70,000 votes. In other words what we established was that Mugabe in 2002 did actually get real votes in large numbers in the rural areas of Mashonaland especially. Whilst we all know that if it were not for Zanu PF propaganda and intimidation rural voters would vote differently we should never underestimate the grip that Zanu PF still holds in those same areas where the bulk of Zimbabwean voters live. Whilst Mugabe is undoubtedly now very unpopular throughout the country we have to question whether there is any evidence that Zanu PF’s grip (as opposed to Mugabe’s grip) has loosened in those areas. Likewise we must examine whether
there is evidence that Morgan Tsvangirai has managed to penetrate the same areas. Whilst the opposition has made some inroads into Zanu PF’s support base Morgan Tsvangirai cannot be confident that he enjoys widespread support in most rural areas. In contrast there is evidence that Simba Makoni has the ability to secure large numbers of votes from these areas. Not only has he been warmly received in rural areas (where he has focussed his campaign) throughout the country but also there are growing signs of a whispering campaign within Zanu PF itself in support of Makoni. In the week ended the 15th March there were at least two reports in the government controlled press of Cabinet Ministers Obert Mpofu and Webster Shamu complaining to Mugabe about a whispering campaign being conducted against Mugabe in support of Makoni in rural areas. In short I believe that Makoni stands a much better chance of attracting this crucial rural vote than Morgan Tsvangirai does.
2. Hundreds of thousands of opposition voters have left Zimbabwe and will not vote
Since the last Presidential election some 2 million Zimbabweans have left Zimbabwe and are now resident in South Africa, Botswana and elsewhere. Most of them are aged between the age of 20 and 40. Nearly all of them would have voted for the opposition but will not be able to do so because they will not return to Zimbabwe for the election. It is no wonder that Mugabe has done little to stop people from leaving Zimbabwe because he knows that every person who leaves is one less person who will vote against him. This is of course a tragedy but it is also a reality in this election that we simply cannot ignore. This block of people may well have voted for Morgan
Tsvangirai but will not be able to do so. It is equally a fact that the vast majority of people who left were urban based people. In other words less people proportionately have left from former Zanu PF strongholds than have left from traditionally opposition strongholds. It follows that proportionately Zanu PF has suffered less from the exodus of people than the opposition has. 3. The October 2005 MDC split will reduce support for Morgan Tsvangirai in
Whatever the reason for the split which occurred in the MDC in October 2005, and whoever is to blame for that split, the fact remains that the split damaged the opposition and has caused confusion and discouragement, which in turn often leads to apathy. That is particularly so in Matabeleland which was a critically important area for Morgan Tsvangirai in 2002. In that election Morgan Tsvangirai secured over 80% of the vote in Bulawayo and slightly less than that in the rural areas of Matabeleland. Tsvangirai will be hard pressed to get anything like that support this election because he does not have a unified team campaigning for him as was the case in 2002. Furthermore because of the weakness of MDC (MT) political structures in every Rural District Council (RDC) area of Matabeleland aside from Binga, Matobo, Gwanda and Beitbridge very few MDC (MT) council candidates were nominated. For example in Mangwe RDC the MDC (MT) did not nominate a single candidate; in Nkayi only 2 candidates out of 30 Wards were nominated and that is typical of most RDCs in Matabeleland. Without councillors at grassroots level campaigning for him Morgan Tsvangirai is going to find it difficult to attract the same votes in these areas as he secured in 2002.
4. The Matibenga issue will reduce support for Morgan Tsvangirai countrywide
In 22 constituencies countrywide there are two MDC (MT) candidates nominated. In the Midlands it is especially bad; in 11 constituencies a faction within the MDC (MT) faction, led by Patrick Kombayi, who is aligned to Lucia Matibenga, the former Chairperson the MDC (MT) Women’s League, has nominated candidates under the banner of the MDC (MT). In the last week that factionalism, if press reports are to be believed, erupted into violence in Shurugwi. In 2002 the Midlands was another key area of support where Morgan Tsvangirai secured a large number of votes. The chaos within the MDC (MT) in Midlands Province will almost certainly damage the support Morgan Tsvangirai has there and lead to a reduction in the numbers of people who would otherwise have voted for him.
My intention is not to depress but these are hard facts we simply cannot ignore. Whilst the MDC (MT) has made some inroads in certain rural areas since 2002 the key questions are what level of penetration into rural areas has been achieved and is that penetration enough to make up for the support Tsvangirai has lost in other areas since 2002, as set out above? I see little evidence that the MDC (MT) has made any significant inroads into Zanu PF’s support base, for example, in the depths of the Mashonaland rural areas. In contrast judging by the reports of Makoni’s rallies
in those areas, and the “whispering campaign” going on it appears as if Makoni may well attract large numbers of votes from those former Zanu PF strongholds. What is certain is that Makoni is more likely to receive votes from disaffected rural Zanu PF supporters than Tsvangirai. In addition Makoni has attracted good crowds in all the major urban areas; they have been as big as the crowds attracted by Tsvangirai but when added to his rural support are sufficient to win the
election against Mugabe. And so for purely practical reasons I believe that one should vote for Makoni because he stands the best chance of beating Mugabe.
Is it morally right to support Simba Makoni?
Some people, especially those who support Morgan Tsvangirai, argue that it is immoral to support Simba Makoni because of his association with Zanu PF for 3 decades.
The miracle that unfolded in South Africa in the early 1990s occurred because Nelson Mandela and the ANC were prepared to forgive the National Party and leaders like F.W. De Klerk for their role in apartheid. Much of that spirit of forgiveness stemmed from the fact that Mr de Klerk was prepared to humble himself by giving up the trappings of power and to turn away from the evil past of apartheid. The combination of the spirit of forgiveness, on the one hand, and the turning away from evil, on the other, contributed greatly to the healing that took place in South Africa in the 1990s.
Zimbabwe is in a similar place of distress as South Africa was in 1990. Our problems are so grave and seemingly intractable that we will not be able to save our land unless all responsible and patriotic Zimbabweans display a similar spirit of forgiveness and turning away from evil. It is in that context that these attacks on Simba Makoni are so unfortunate. He is accused of being complicit in the Gukurahundi genocide, the Murambatsvina atrocity and other human rights violations, through his silence.
What is undeniable is that Simba Makoni has been in Zanu PF since independence but that alone does not make him complicit. In my capacity as Director of the Bulawayo Legal Projects Centre in the 1980s and 1990s I played a leading role in the investigation and reporting of the Gukurahundi genocide which culminated in the publication in 1997 of the report “Breaking the
Silence” by our parent organisation the Legal Resources Foundation. Simba Makoni was never implicated in the Gukurahundi. Indeed our investigations revealed that it was perpetrated by a relatively small cabal around Robert Mugabe. Many even in the military itself did not know exactly what was planned and what happened.
As regards Murambatsvina the facts are that Makoni resigned, in an unprecedented and brave act, from cabinet in 2002, well before Murambatsvina took place. We also know that the reason he resigned was because he disagreed with a host of Zanu PF policies. We also know that he has fought a lone battle within the Politburo trying to reform Zanu PF from within. In the past year he has spoken out publicly against Zanu PF’s abuses including the shocking torture of Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders in March last year. He has even visited victims such as Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai Holland in hospital. There is no evidence to show that Makoni supported all these horrors.
We may criticise him for staying within Zanu PF for so long but it is wrong to say that he has agreed with all that has happened in Zimbabwe since independence. Even if I am incorrect in my assessment of Makoni’s past and intentions, what we know for certain now is that he has broken from Zanu PF in an astonishingly brave move. His manifesto indicates that he stands for the right
things, including national reconciliation and a new democratic constitution. I believe Makoni wants to heal our land.
In my view this courageous move should be supported, not criticised. What we need in return is for Simba Makoni to show that this is a genuine turning away from Zanu PF’s evil past – but I
think he has already demonstrated that through his actions and words during the last few weeks. What I have no doubt about is that if our friends in the MDC (MT) were to join forces with us Mugabe would not have a hope of winning this election. Sadly though the MDC (MT) appears determined to go it alone. However that fact should not deter us from giving our wholehearted support to Simba Makoni; now is the time for all patriotic Zimbabweans to work together to bring Robert Mugabe’s ruinous and brutal dictatorship to an end.
Isn’t this yet another cunning Mugabe trick?
Some people fear that Makoni’s candidacy is just another trick concocted by Mugabe to perpetuate Zanu PF rule. For reasons I have advanced in other articles I do not believe this to be the case.
Aside from anything else all Makoni has to do, even if comes a distant 3rd in the race, is take less than 10% of Mugabe’s vote (to drop Mugabe below the 50% majority threshold) and he will force Mugabe into a run off in terms of Section 110 of the Electoral Act against Morgan Tsvangirai. This is Mugabe’s worst nightmare because not only will the advantage of a divided opposition be removed but also he will no longer have the same support of Zanu PF Senators, MPs and Councillors whose elections will be over. Zanu PF deliberately organised the so called “harmonized” elections because Mugabe knew that he would have to rely on the self interest of Zanu PF Senators, MPs and Councillors (who obviously want to win themselves) to campaign for him as well. In the run off he cannot be guaranteed that they will support him as they did in the main election. It is inconceivable that Mugabe would have deliberately allowed Makoni to run and so open up the possibility of this happening.
It is equally inconceivable that Dumiso Dabengwa, who suffered so much personally at the hands of Mugabe between 1982 and 1987, would allow himself to be part of a massive trick to perpetuate Mugabe’s rule.
Others fear that this is a trick to perpetuate Zanu PF rule under Makoni and this is where the “Gorbachev Factor” I wrote about last year comes into play. Michael Gorbachev never wanted
to destroy the Soviet Union he was President of or the Communist Party he was Secretary General of in the 1980s. However he realised that if he did not reform the Soviet economy he would not be able to hold on to power. As a result he introduced the policies of perestroika and glasnost with the hope that those reforms would maintain his grip on power. However as we all know once he started down that path of reform he was unable to control the process which ran away from him resulting in the break up of the Soviet Union and the loss of power by the Communist Party. We are at a similar stage in Zimbabwe. The centre of power is so weak that the moment any leader attempts to reform any aspect of our economic policy the process will run away from that leader. Accordingly whilst I believe that Makoni is genuine in his stated wish to
free Zimbabwe, even if he is not, I think that history shows that he will not be able to stop the
inevitable process of reform.
In conclusion I do not think we should have anything to fear in voting for Simba Makoni. On the
contrary I believe that he will make a fine President as he is a man of integrity and great
capability who can draw Zimbabweans together to find solutions to the enormous problems our
nation faces. In addition I think it is practically sensible because it gives us all the best chance of
removing Mugabe from office. I hope that you will go out to vote and that you will do all in your
power to get every friend, fellow worker and family member to vote. If we all vote in numbers it
will virtually impossible for the Mugabe regime to rig big enough to win.
Voting on Saturday the 29th March 2008 Please remember that you will have to vote within the Ward you are registered in. You must
establish what Ward you live in. If you need any help in finding out where you are registered
please phone our help line 0912 929580.
On Election Day please take your current valid passport of your current valid ID to any of the
polling stations in your Ward. Please remember that the Khumalo Senatorial Constituency is
made up of two House of Assembly Constituencies, namely Bulawayo East and Central.
Please also try to vote early as there are likely to be long queues and if you arrive late you may
not be able to vote at all. Zanu PF has deliberately cut down on the number of urban polling
stations to reduce the tidal wave of opposition to Mugabe.
Do come prepared to wait as well. I recommend that you bring water, food, a hat and a chair. But
please be determined to vote as we must bring tyranny to and end and we have a real chance to
do so on the 29th March 2008.
What you can expect from me if you elect me If elected I will:
• Continue to fight for a new democratic constitution, the repeal of oppressive legislation and enactment of new progressive, democratic laws
• Press for sound economic policies to be introduced • Fight for the restoration of the rule of law including respect for property rights and a zero
tolerance approach to crime and corruption
• Hold regular report back meetings with constituents
• Develop projects for disadvantaged constituents.
I have enjoyed meeting many of you during this campaign. If elected I look forward to working with you in future to develop Bulawayo, Matabeleland and Zimbabwe into the shining jewels they deserve to be.
David Coltart MP