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ZEC denies clergyman, HR lawyers accreditation

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The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has arbitrarily barred several Zimbabweans from being accredited as observers for the 23 August general elections citing some undisclosed security reasons in turning down their applications to observe the polls. Among those barred from observing the elections are Bishop Ancelimo Magaya, a prominent clergyman, leading human rights lawyers Musa Kika and Arnold Tsunga, and pro-democracy campaigners Tapiwanashe Chiriga, Rashid Mahiya, Blessing Vava, Rachel Kadau and Dephin Magaya. Bishop Magaya and his wife founded Grace Ablaze Ministries International.

Zimbabwe elections off to a rocky start

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Zimbabweans vote today (23 August) to elect a new president, parliamentary and municipal representatives. However, the election got off to a late start in several polling stations countrywide due to logistical problems encountered by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.  “We are not happy with the process so far. People have come out to vote but we have seen an attempt to sabotage the will of the people. We hear that in rural areas they are forcing people through the headmen and chiefs to vote in a particular manner,” said opposition leader Nelson Chamisa. He slammed disinformation posters erected in urban and rural areas.

View CITE website for election information

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CITE, the Centre For Innovation & Technology in Zimbabwe, has developed a comprehensive platform for information and updates on the 2023 elections. It provides news updates on the elections and other crucial developments as they unfold, as well as candidate information and graphs. It also has a fact-checking section called “Promise Tracker” which monitors promises made by key people ahead of the elections.

FAZ, a shadowy NGO, accused of election manipulation

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A shadowy group associated with the ruling Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe has emerged at the centre of vote manipulation allegations that critics say are a cynical attempt to keep Emmerson Mnangagwa and his party in power.  Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ), which is registered as a private non-governmental organisation, has made no secret of its task to help Mnangagwa “dominate” the August 2023 general election. FAZ has taken a lead role at rallies and heaped praise on the 80-year-old despite Zimbabwe’s drawn-out economic collapse. FAZ has been accused of intimidating voters and interfering in electoral processes.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe bails out 3 banks

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The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has used its “lender of last resort” (LoLR) facility to bail out three distressed banks which had run out of liquidity following the steep depreciation of the local currency rate in June this year. LoLR is a facility in which a central bank offers loans to banks or other eligible institutions experiencing financial difficulty, or considered highly risky or nearing collapse. It is one of the primary functions of a central bank. The revelations about the three banks, who the RBZ did not name, have once again raised questions about the liquidity and capital levels in the banking sector.

African opposition unites to fight authoritarian regimes

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The European Solidarity Centre (Poland) and The Brenthurst Foundation (South Africa) recently staged a conference on Rolling Back Authoritarianism in Gdańsk, Poland. While democracy is under threat worldwide, a major concern raised was that nine out of ten Africans live under versions of authoritarianism and on aggregate are poorer than they were 10 years ago. The delegates agreed that the struggle for democracy must involve all those outside government, in civil society including the media, academia, trade unions, churches and business. Zimbabwe is an example of a country where liberation movements stifle growth.

Lessons from Zim on ending autocracy

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Zimbabwe’s opposition, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), says it has no option but to go through the election process. But the obstacles the regime has thrown in its path by the Mnangagwa regime are more challenging even than in Mugabe’s day. The police have drawn on sweeping powers to ban scores of its rallies. The judiciary has been suborned. Official trickery even forced the opposition to give up its old name. As before, voters have been disbarred and there is no independent radio or TV. The only question is how the regime can rig the election in a way that does not seem absurd.

Zimbabwe’s elections will likely be rigged; so what next?

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“Every Zimbabwean election since 2000 has been rigged and/or ended in dispute. As Nigerian activist Aisha Yesufu stated recently: ‘Until rigged elections are treated in the same way as coups, democracy will continue to be in danger.’ The series of disputed elections since 2000 represent not only “coups” (not excluding the military one of November 2017), but the antithesis of democracy itself. This renders the elections process farcical and a mechanism through which the securocrat state renews its illigitimate mandate, especially and significantly with respect to the presidential poll,” writes Professor Ibbo Mandaza (SAPES Trust).

Zim Investment Gold (ZIG) – new currency

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Zimbabwe, referred to as “The Kingdom of Funny Money”, is on the cusp of introducing its latest currency: “Zimbabwean Investment Gold” (ZIG) which is essentially digital tokens backed by gold. It is not a physical form of currency, the tokens are transacted electronically using blockchain technology or a similar decentralized system. It can be used for peer-to-peer or peer-to-business transactions. While the process for acquiring ZIG tokens may vary, individuals can hold them in digital wallets and use them for transactions. However, the IMF has expressed concerns about the potential depletion of Zimbabwe’s gold reserves. 

Elite Africa Research survey puts CCC ahead

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Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa and his Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party would win next month’s Zimbabwean elections – if the elections are free and fair – a new poll suggests. The poll of 2,000 registered voters, conducted by Elite Africa Research in June, found that if the August elections were held then, 47.6% of respondents would vote for Chamisa in the presidential poll, while 38.7% would vote for President Mnangagwa. Similarly, the poll found that 47.7 % of respondents would vote for Chamisa’s CCC while 39.6% would vote for Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF party in the parliamentary elections.

Diasporans must plan for a better future

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“If Zanu-PF were removed from power today, Zimbabwe will not be able to rise again quickly without the skills [of the millions in the diaspora],” writes Hopewell Chin'ono, a highly respected Zimbabwean journalist, documentary film director and anti-corruption activist. “For Zimbabwe’s fortunes to change, you need more than a people’s will and desire to vote, you need alternative political thinking with ideas and a plan for how to capture power and change Zimbabwe… I urge them to continue studying while there because a day will come when the skills that they would have got there become highly needed back home.”

Treasury Bills bleed govt’s coffers dry

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The latest report by international investigative agencies — Sentry and Open Secrets — has exposed how Zimbabwe may have attracted a huge unaccounted-for public debt through Treasury Bills issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) between 2014 and 2018. Titled, Fronts, Fakes and Facades: How South African and Mauritian enablers helped move millions from Zimbabwe to Britain, the report focused on alleged illicit financial flows facilitated by one of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s close advisors, business tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei, to line the pockets of the country’s ruling elite.

Tortured women acquitted by high court

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The Zimbabwe high court has acquitted two opposition politicians - legislator Joana Mamombe and activist Cecilia Chimbiri from the Citizen’s Coalition for Change (CCC) party  who were accused of fabricating a story about being abducted while in police custody and later tortured in 2020. This was despite the fact that shocking photographs after their rescue were published in the press. The two politicians, and a third young woman, now exiled, Netsai Marova (25), faced charges of publishing or communicating false statements over abduction and torture. The women had been accused of tarnishing the image of the state.

Latest Sentry corruption report

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A joint investigative report by The Sentry and Open Secrets exposes how Zimbabwean presidential advisor and business tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei, who is the subject of numerous corruption allegations, was able to move suspect funds from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to the City of London using a combination of fronts, apparently false invoices, and offshore financial façades. It focuses on three payments that secured Tagwirei’s purchase of two mines—Bindura Nickel and Freda Rebecca Gold Mine. The report notes that Tagwirei sought to create an offshore empire built on Zimbabwean mining. 

Breakthrough Zimbabwe Elections?  Seeds of Hope
Recordings of presentations and question time

The Mike Campbell Foundation’s update event at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 20 June 2023 attracted a diverse audience of Zimbabweans and supporters, all anxious to see change in the country and for the rebuilding of the shattered economy and agricultural sector to begin. The question on everyone’s minds was whether change can be achieved through the presidential and parliamentary elections on Wednesday 23 August 2023. The presenters were acclaimed journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, Advocate Fadzayi Mahere (both remotely), Dr Theo de Jager (Chairman of the Southern African Agri Initiative) and the MCF’s executive director, Ben Freeth. To listen to recordings of the event,

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