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Thursday, 2 August 2007



SW Radio Africa Transcript
Hot Seat transcript: Topper Whitehead on how Mugabe rigged 2002 Presidential Election
Broadcast 30 July 2007

Elections are expected next year and already complaints of irregularities are beginning to emerge. Last week an opposition official was arrested for taking pictures of chaos at a voter registration center in Harare . The opposition and independent electoral bodies have criticized the way the registration exercise has been conducted and it is feared that the slow pace and inadequate publicity given to this exercise will exclude many people from voting. This is one of the ways that elections are rigged in Zimbabwe .

Violet Gonda: My guest on the programme Hot Seat is Topper Whitehead, an elections expert. He was illegally deported from Zimbabwe in 2006 after exposing how the Mugabe government had blatantly rigged the 2002 presidential election and subsequent elections. His investigations took 3 years, 7 court cases and 2 situations of contempt of court on behalf of the Registrar General Tobiawa Mudede. In 2005 and 2006, state security agents confiscated equipment designed for the first time, to expose how the 2002 presidential election was rigged. Although he lives in exile in South Africa Topper is a key witness in the 2002 Presidential challenge with a detailed affidavit in the high court proving the rigging.

Violet: Welcome on the programme Topper.

Topper Whitehead: Good Afternoon, it's afternoon time here.

Violet: Now, you were deported at gun-point on the 13 th June last year. What reason did they give for expelling you?

Topper Whitehead: Well, the reasons were; the verbal reasons were; that I was no longer a Zimbabwe citizen, which is completely absurd because I was born in Zimbabwe , my mother was born in Zimbabwe and my grandmother. And, I had done what was necessary in terms of renouncing any connections with South Africa earlier and Mudede (Registrar General) said that I hadn't done that and I was no longer a citizen.

Violet: And, what do you think was the motive behind that. Do you think that it had anything to do with the work you did on the voters roll and rigging methods used by the Registrar General to foster Mugabe's interests?

Topper Whitehead: Oh absolutely, and, coming back to just after the Presidential elections, I was a key witness in the initial affidavit and from then on I had tirelessly tried to expose how the election was rigged. And, it took us a long time; many, many court cases, a lot of harassment, and eventually, we managed to get access to the voting residue in the High Court, and, I did a lot of work there and they knew what I was doing. For example, I was working in the High Court going through the residue and I had 18 young men and women helping me to sift through all the data and we had up to 38 CIO operatives watching us while we were doing this, I mean there was more than one on one.

Violet: Were you doing this manually or …? This is the voters roll we are talking about?

Topper Whitehead: Well, no, this is the voters roll which was marked off in terms of how they do it in the election. So, we had the voters' rolls that were actually used at the Presidential election and we were going through that manually, taking the data off it manually and then converting that into electronically so that I could use my database to pinpoint the anomalies.

Violet: Was this voter's roll available to all contesting political parties?

Topper Whitehead: No never ever, OK. We never got the voters roll and after persistently trying to obtain the roll we didn't do it. It was only after all these court cases that we were then allowed access; under very strict control in the High Court to look at the voting residue, of which the voters roll is one of them. Now, I had to then convert that back into digital format to be able to analyse it.

Violet: But how did you manage to get it when the political parties were not able to, are you able to tell us?

Topper Whitehead: No we got access to it through the High Court and I was then acting on behalf of the political party, the MDC. I was their agent as it were, doing the work for them on their behalf.

Violet: And what about the anomalies, what sort of evidence did you have, or did you see to be able to show that the election had been rigged? We are talking about the 2002 presidential election.

Topper Whitehead: Well, just to go back a little bit, straight after the 2002 election I managed to personally purchase four voters rolls, OK. That were allegedly used; that was the Presidential roll; before Mudede clamped down and said 'no,' we couldn't buy any more. And then, it took us another seven court cases to get access to the residue, of which, the voters roll is a main constituent. And then, having got that through the MDC, I was tasked with the task of going through the residue and trying to pinpoint the anomalies that everybody knew that it was rigged, and I was trying to prove it.

Violet: And so what were your findings?

Topper Whitehead: Well, the findings were horrific and we submitted a report, which is technically still sub judice . It was a 150page report with more than 1000 photo capstated copies of the evidence that we managed to get from the voting residue. And, the bottom line is unequivocally conclusive, that if we extrapolate - bearing in mind that we spent a lot of time as it was all manual. What we managed to do was to do a complete study on 12 constituencies. There are 120 constituencies in Zimbabwe at the time so we did 10%. Now if we extrapolate our findings, it is absolutely clear that there was more than half a million illegal votes.

Violet: In the 12 constituencies?

Topper Whitehead: If we extrapolate that up, there was more than half a million over the 120 constituencies, which would then give Morgan Tsvangirai a clear lead in the Presidential elections.

Violet: Can you still remember what the margin was when the results were announced?

Topper Whitehead: Well, the official margin that came out from Mudede was that Morgan Tsvangirai lost by more than four hundred and something odd thousand votes. And, we believe that there was; conservatively; half a million, five hundred thousand votes that were fraudulent. And that doesn't exclude the tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of voters within the urban areas that were denied the vote because they couldn't get there in time and that constituted the third day. Even then, there were people turned away because of lack of time.

Violet: But how can you prove this? Can you give us more details on how you came up with these statistics?

Topper Whitehead: Well, if we can take, for example, the constituency of Chimanimani. Now Chimanimani was a very sensitive constituency because the candidate there was Roy Bennett, OK? Roy Bennett, we all know his history, having been ZANU PF and crossed the floor. He was number one hated person on Mugabe's list. So, we looked at his constituency and we found that there were absolutely horrific figures. It's all in the report, but there were more than 1 700 people in that constituency who voted more than once. Now, I can't tell you who they voted for, but the fact that there are more than 1 700 people voting more than once, and that I can prove by going through the residue. I can show from the voters' rolls that were used by the Registrar at any election that on this roll, that person has been struck off - that means he's voted. On another roll in a different polling station he was also struck off and another roll in another polling station also.

Violet: Were there ghost voters?

Topper Whitehead: I can't tell you whether there were ghost voters because we didn't have that means to find out whether there were ghost voters, but, in certain instances, we picked up a voter who had voted, OK, from the record, but yet he is known to have died. So, therefore, you can say that that person was a ghost voter. And, we can prove that by going and saying this person was struck off, and he died, there's his death certificate, he died well before the election.

Violet: But he voted after he had died?

Topper Whitehead: He is recorded as having voted.

Violet: Did you have many cases of that?

Topper Whitehead: Well, those are very difficult to identify because we don't have a complete list of all deceased people, but, there were a number that we actually managed to identify because of that. So, the answer to the question is there weren't many that we could find, but, we know that there were because – but, we couldn't find them. It's like finding a needle in a haystack.

Violet: In one of your reports you said that in one of the areas that you investigated, you took names and addresses of those proved to have voted more than once and you actually visited their areas, where you found that 87% of those checked were staunch ZANU PF office bearers in their respective constituencies. Can you explain?

Topper Whitehead: Yes, what we did there, those people that we can prove unequivocally that they voted more than once, we then took their name and ID number, and their address from the voters roll. We did a follow up, a ground search, going back to the constituency, making enquiries to find out who these people were, OK? And, as you say, in over 87% of the cases that we were able to get information on, they were known to be staunch ZANU PF office bearers or supporters. In fact, some of them were even members, not members, district office bearers.

Violet: Can you give examples of some of the areas where you found these anomalies?

Topper Whitehead: Well, I don't have all those records. Remember that the report is a 150-page report and it's attached to more than a thousand pages of that sort of evidence where we have the name and ID number of them. I've got all that on a computer data base which I have copies of and that's what was confiscated from me, and, when it was given back it had been completely destroyed, but, I had copies outside. So the actual examples that I have now are attached to the report, but they are absolutely definite. And, this is one of the reasons why I'm so anxious to get to court so that we can get to court - so that we can expose it.

Violet: Can you still get your evidence to court?

Topper Whitehead: I've got all the evidence, yes. If we could get to court, OK, if we could get to court it would be as clear as daylight. I would be able to show the Judge, or the panel of Judges, or the jury or whatever, OK, that this, there, all filed, referenced, this is what happened there, this is the name of the person, he voted at such and such a polling station and was recorded at such and such a polling station and recorded as voting at another polling station. I can't tell you the time but it's recorded, and I can't tell you who he voted for, but, the fact that he voted more than once is absolutely clear.

Violet: So what is holding you up and what has happened to the other election petitions?

Topper Whitehead: Well, the hold up is; a) the first thing they did, they came and took all my evidence away and destroyed it, it's computer evidence but I had a copy in Jo'burg and I had another copy in London, right? So, I managed to get my, the proof back. And, the other is the judicial system, right? We cannot get to court. I mean it took us; it took us a mandamus to get the first stage done, OK? And, from there -

Violet: That was in 2002?

Topper Whitehead: No, in 2003 is the first time we managed to get to court, and the Judge heard Part One. Then, from that, we've been trying to get back to court. And court cases cost a lot of money and we can't get in there, so the recommendations of the report said the Supreme Court must, without delay, hear the appeal against the Justice Hlatswayo's dismissal of the first part, I mean he dismissed it; there was no reason for that. He gave obscure reasons. And his final judgment handed down on the 28th November 2005 . The First Part had been argued two years previously, in November 2003, that was the first time we managed to get to court. Now, we've got all this evidence and we can't get back to court; a) because I am the key witness, I have all the information and I've been deported, right? That was the reason why they deported me; I'm absolutely convinced of it; that they wanted me out of the way because they deported me completely illegally.

Violet: And, I understand you also had video footage showing how potential voters were denied the opportunity to vote and that the government denied that there had been long queues but you went on a helicopter trip around the polling stations, together with the Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa. Can you tell us more about this?

Topper Whitehead: Ya, what happened there, during day two of the Presidential election it became evident that people; particularly in the urban areas; were not going to be able to vote because of long queues. So an application was made through the lawyers, BryantElliott being the forerunner in it, and, the Judge at the time said 'let's go and see that your case is valid. This is when an application was to allow for an additional voting day was applied for. And, part of that investigation was two army helicopters took the Judge, I forget who he was, Patrick Chinamasa, up, myself, Bryant Elliott and a ZESN observer to go and observe these. And, at the first polling station we came to, which was Highlands School , there were huge queues of people waiting. Now, this was late on the Sunday and as we landed, we said 'right, there we are, these are the queues of people that are trying to vote'. And, that is when (Minister) Chinamasa said 'no, no, these aren't queues for voting, these are people come to watch the helicopters' which was an absolutely ridiculous and absurd statement.
And then we went on to another six or seven polling stations; I've got the film of it all; which will be used in the court case, showing these unprecedented queues of people trying to vote. And then, at the end of the voting they were chased away. Tear gas was used at a number of polling stations, they were chased away. Our application to have a third day was granted but some of the polling stations only opened at 10.00 or 11.00 o'clock , OK? Again; because its state controlled; very slow and, at the end of that day then there were still huge queues of people trying to vote that were never allowed to vote. And, if we take those statistics, within Harare , the actual end of the day only had a turn out of 47% voting, actual, that voted. You take an urban area, I mean, a rural area such as UMP (Uzumba Maramba Pfungwa). UMP had a voting of 89%. You know, it's absurd, over two days, the numbers just don't add up. So that's when we went back and we looked at the voting residue and we found that in UMP, for example, there were 2 700 additional voters that shouldn't have been there. Whereas, in the urban areas, particularly in Harare , the people didn't get that chance.

Violet: Right, so what about what is happening now? You know, elections are expected next year and Opposition Leader, Morgan Tsvangirai said, on this programme, that a new electoral management system, you know, will ensure that the vote is free and fair. With what you have seen in the past, do you agree with this?

Topper Whitehead: Absolutely, absolutely. The reason for doing all this work is to expose the misdemeanors and the fraud of the past. So, if we could get to court we would expose that and then it would be blatantly clear for anybody; South Africa , Mbeki, anybody, to see that there has to be an overhaul of the system. Tobaiwa Mudede has control of a very important function and, I'm quite categoric that he abuses his position to favour his master. And, that's why there has to be an overhaul. And, any person who goes to another election under the same rules as they are at present, and with Tobaiwa Mudede in control of the electoral system, because basically he's the one who's in control, forget about the Electoral Supervisory Commission and everything; they are just toothless bulldogs; the person who controls it is Mudede. And, to go to an election under those rules is just being, taking a lamb to the slaughter table.

Violet: But what about the time factor? You know, as you mentioned before that election petitions take a long time to be determined.

Topper Whitehead: Well, this is the problem. It's now five years after the petition was lodged and it's still sitting on the court's desk because the judiciary is biased and has no interest in bringing it to court. And, if Robert Mugabe had any knowledge or any conviction that he had won it, he would be pressing it and saying 'right, come to court and let's sort it out' OK? But, he's the one who's delaying it because he knows he's guilty.

Violet: And you know, your investigations into how Mugabe rigged the elections, do they also look into the issues of free media, freedom of association or freedom of assembly or it was just -

Topper Whitehead: Negative. You know, those are subjective aspects. And, how they influence the vote you cannot quantify that. We all know that it is a factor but whether it's 10%, 5%, 100% you cannot say. What I have done is absolute categoric proof, you cannot dispute it, you cannot deny it any way. I've got the name of such and such a man, his ID number, he voted at this polling station, he also voted at that polling station. What I'm talking of is absolute unequivocal proof, not the subjective issues like intimidation, voting access, media access and all that. Those add on to this, alright?

Violet: And so, do you think the MDC should participate in elections next year which, as you said before, are already pre-determined?

Topper Whitehead: Negative. They cannot go to the polls under the current electoral rules and particularly with Tobaiwa Mudede in control, because, they will lose, because he is a past master at proving it. Let me get to court and call, bring up my evidence. There is no judge, not even the most biased judge that Mugabe has on his bench, would be able to dispute the facts that I have got. There is no judge, no-one, not even the most biased judge, that is why they cannot afford to go to court, alright? Everybody knows that it is rigged, even Mugabe himself knows. But, I can prove it.
Once I can prove it to SADC or anybody who is in this process of trying to solve this mess that has such a terrible humanitarian ripple effect, convince them that it is necessary to re-vamp the system so that a free and fair election can be held. At the moment, they believe that elections are free and fair, because nobody has proved it. Everybody knows it but have no proof. I've got the proof. The absolute need to control power by Mugabe has led to this absolute manipulation of the voters system, and that is denying everybody their democratic right. All he wants is power, and, he knows that he has to remain power because without that power, he's going to go to jail for the other atrocities that he's committed and allowed to have been committed.

Violet: And Topper I understand that this is not the first time that you have exposed irregularities in the government? I understand that you once worked for the government in the early '90's where you were appointed by the government as Managing Director of a mining parastatal. Can you tell our listeners why you resigned?

Topper Whitehead: Well yes. I was appointed by Mugabe as the President of the state, which was necessary, as Managing Director of Mhangura Copper Mines. Now, Mhangura Mines at the time was the biggest copper mine in Zimbabwe and it had all the copper smelting facilities. So, it was a big organization. I was appointed, with the approval of the President, as Managing Director of Mhangura Copper Mines. I had not been there very long and, when I started to see huge stripping of assets is the word that people use now. And, the then Secretary for Industry; Commerce and Industry was Chris Ushemekunze, and Chris Ushemekunze was also Chairman of ZMDC; Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.

Violet: Chris Ushewekunze?

Topper Whitehead: Chris Ushewekunze, ya.So, technically, I was working under Chris Ushewekunze, even though he was the Secretary for Commerce and Industry, I think it was, but he was also Chairman of ZMDC of which MhanguraCopper Mines was a major part of ZMDC. And, we started working together and we saw the strippings of assets - of a state resource OK. We had been working on it for about three or four months when suddenly Ushewekunze was killed in a road accident. He had an accident with an Army truck. Now, it's common knowledge that that was because he was getting too big for his boots. The day after he was, um assassinated, as I call it, or he had his untimely death with an Army truck, the day after that, CIO operatives visited me and they said, and almost the exact words were 'Chris Ushewekunze is dead if you don't drop this investigation of yours, you will be dead as well', and they left me at that. I lay low for quite some time after that thinking, 'you know, what's the good of dying for whatever'. But, it was a stark reminder. Then, when the MDC came to, to… and then I resigned, I then resigned from Mhangura Copper Mines and I wrote a letter saying that 'I'm not going to be party to any of this asset stripping and mis-management' so I resigned'.

Violet : Did you know who was behind this huge stripping of assets?

Topper Whitehead: Well, it all went down the line, you know. Its part of how the copper is a valuable commodity. Where it goes down the line, I can give you all, that was a long time ago, I've got all my notes on that I put to bed when Chris was killed. It was just going that I know, as Manager of a big parastatal, that the government influence on corporations that is not in the best interests of the company. And it's for personal gain up the line. Where it actually goes to, I wouldn't know, but it's certainly not to where it should go.

Violet : Right.

Topper Whitehead: And, the proof is there, Mhangura Copper Mines is now defunct.

Violet Gonda : Unfortunately I have to end here but perhaps we will call at a later time and discuss some more about this other aspect.

Topper Whitehead: Ya, we can do that.

Violet Gonda: Thank you very much.

Topper Whitehead: Thank you Violet, OK, bye.



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Maria said...

Well the final word is that I think that we need to understand that this is a moment of possibility; it is not in my view a defeat.
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