Mugabe proclaims “harmonised”

Mugabe proclaims “harmonised” Election Day a public holiday

Robert Mugabe’s softer narrative is believed to be nothing more than a cunning attempt to soften SADC’s verdict on the upcoming ‘harmonised’ elections in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe proclaims “harmonised”

Mugabe squareZimbabwe’s Election Day on 31 July has been declared a public holiday in order to enable citizens to vote in the ‘harmonised elections’, President Mugabe confirmed on Thursday.

The decision complies with section 38 (2) of the Electoral Act that states, “Polling day shall be deemed a public holiday for the purposes of the Public Holidays and Prohibition of Business Act”. Employers must allow employees who are at work on polling day to have the morning or afternoon off “to afford them an opportunity to vote in the election”, without deducting pay, as enunciated in section 92 of the Electoral Act.


African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has flown to Harare to assess Zimbabwe’s preparedness in the lead-up to general elections.

“We are here … just to see how things are before the actual election day,” Dlamini-Zuma said upon her arrival.

Although the registration of voters ended on 9 July, with 6.4 million Zimbabweans officially eligible to vote, political parties have still not been given the national consolidated voters roll, situation which is raising tensions between political parties and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Registrar-general Tobaiwa Mudede refuted claims of vote-rigging saying it was impossible to do this using the voters roll. Not surprisingly, that has not alleviated concerns of manipulation. In fact, Mudede has been accused of working with Nikuv International Projects – an Israeli company specialised in population registration and election systems – to rig the elections on behalf of Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.


Some 600 foreign election observers – mainly from Africa – have been accredited to monitor the polls. They will join about 6,000 local observers.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has drawn up a list of the countries invited to observe the elections in Zimbabwe: Algeria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Brazil, Jamaica, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, Russia, Belarus and Serbia.

Commenting on the list, a Crisis Coalition spokesperson wrote, â€œIt’s not a birthday party where you invite your friends; it is a process where you bring in all those so you have a proper assessment of your processes…. there is an attempt to manage perceptions by courting favours and cherry picking.”

Zimbabwe did not invite Western observer missions because of sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his top officials for rights abuses.


In 2008, Mugabe’s campaign was riddled with threats against white farmers, the servile MDC opposition “created by the West” and, of course, Zimbabwe’s former colonial power Britain. But at the ZANU-PF rally in Mashonaland Central Province earlier this month, Mugabe did not use any of his typical rhetoric, such as how “only a dead imperialist is a good one” or Zanu-PF “must strike fear in the heart of the white man.” The 89-year-old dictator did not mention the British government and he did not threaten his long-time main challenger Morgan Tsvangirai in violent terms. Instead, the president vehemently urged his party and supporters to desist from political violence.

This was in sharp contrast to 2008, when the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) body had to intervene to broker a power-sharing government between the undefeatable dictator and the opposition, to resolve what it saw as a legitimacy crisis.

Mugabe’s softer narrative is believed to be nothing more than a cunning attempt to soften SADC’s verdict on the upcoming elections. Should he win and SADC deems the result credible, it will remove Zimbabwe from the regional body’s political crisis agenda, leaving Zanu-PF to consolidate its rule, free from external intrusion. Against this background, Mugabe’s peace narrative begins to make sense.