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Southern Africa leaders start Zimbabwe summit

Yahoo News

By Serena Chaudhry 2 hours, 35 minutes ago

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Southern African nations began an emergency summit on
Zimbabwe's election deadlock on Saturday but South Africa's Thabo Mbeki said
there was no crisis.

Zambia, which called the meeting of the 14-nation Southern African
Development Community (SADC), expressed concern about the situation in its
neighbor, where a long delay in issuing presidential poll results has raised
fears of violence.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe did not attend the summit.

"This summit should focus on helping Zimbabwe to find an answer that
genuinely reflects the mood of the people," said SADC chairman and Zambian
President Levy Mwanawasa in his opening remarks.

"SADC can no longer continue to stand by and do nothing when one of its
members is experiencing political and economic difficulties."

President Mbeki, the most powerful leader at the summit, advocates "quiet
diplomacy" in Zimbabwe and seemed not to share the regional and
international concern over the impasse.

"I wouldn't describe that as a crisis. It's a normal electoral process in
Zimbabwe. We have to wait for ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) to release
(the results)," Mbeki told reporters after meeting Mugabe for an hour.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition won a parliamentary
election on March 29 and says its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, also won a
presidential poll on the same day.

But no results of that election have been released, stoking tension and MDC
charges that Mugabe is planning a violent campaign to reverse the biggest
setback of his 28-year rule.

The MDC has gone to court to try to force the ZEC to release the results and
a judge has promised a verdict for Monday.

ECONOMIC COLLAPSE

Many Zimbabweans had hoped the vote would begin their recovery from economic
collapse, marked by the world's worst rate of hyper-inflation at more than
100,000 percent.

Mwanawasa said in his speech: "This summit is not intended to put his
excellency, Robert Mugabe, in the dock. In fact it would be un-African to
even make such a suggestion."

Mugabe, aged 84 and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, said
he was not snubbing the summit, which three government ministers will
attend.

"He (Mbeki) is going to the summit, I'm not ... We're very good friends,
very good brothers. But sometimes we also have other business that holds us
back."

He dismissed comments by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that the world
was losing patience.

"If Brown is the world, sure, he will lose patience. I know Brown as a
little tiny dot on this planet," said Mugabe who calls the MDC a puppet of
Britain, the former colonial power.

Mbeki met Tsvangirai on Thursday but no details of their talks were
revealed.

Tsvangirai earlier met Jacob Zuma, who ousted Mbeki as leader of the ruling
African National Congress in December and now rivals him as South Africa's
most powerful man. Zuma joined the chorus calling for results to be
released.

Tsvangirai has been invited to Lusaka. "No decision can be made without
hearing both sides since there is a stalemate," Pande said.

MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said the party would tell the summit to be
tough with Mugabe, still regarded as a liberation-era hero by many Africans.

SADC has long been regarded as toothless in its response to Mugabe, despite
the meltdown of Zimbabwe's economy, which has impacted the whole region.
Mbeki led an unsuccessful SADC mediation attempt last year.

An estimated one-quarter of the population has fled Zimbabwe, many to South
Africa and other neighboring nations, to escape chronic shortages of food
and fuel, 80 percent unemployment and a virtually worthless currency.

Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Friday that
Zimbabwe "now stands on the brink."

"SADC must insist that a peaceful and just solution be found to resolve the
political crisis in Zimbabwe," he said.

(Additional reporting by Shapi Shacinda in Lusaka, Cris Chinaka, MacDonald
Dzirutwe, Nelson Banya, Stella Mapenzauswa, Muchena Zigomo in Harare and Sue
Thomas in Johannesburg; Writing by Barry Moody; Editing by Marius Bosch and
Robert Woodward)


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No Crisis in Zimbabwe, South African Says

New York Times
Alexander Joe/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, left, and Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, talked to reporters after their meeting in Harare on Saturday.

Published: April 13, 2008

LUSAKA, Zambia (Reuters) — An emergency regional summit meeting began Saturday in an attempt to end the election deadlock in Zimbabwe, but hopes for a strong statement from the group looked less likely after its most powerful leader, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, said the stalemate was not a crisis.

Mr. Mbeki also said that Zimbabwe’s electoral commission must be given time to release the results of a presidential poll held two weeks ago.

He spoke after an hourlong meeting with Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, who refused to attend the meeting of the region’s leaders in Zambia.

The Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition party in Zimbabwe, won a parliamentary election held on March 29, the same day as the presidential vote. The party claims victory in the presidential vote as well and has gone to court to try to force Zimbabwe’s electoral commission to release the results.

“I wouldn’t describe that as a crisis,” Mr. Mbeki told reporters after his discussions with Mr. Mugabe and before the summit meeting began. “It’s a normal electoral process in Zimbabwe.”

But in opening remarks at the regional meeting, President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia said: “This extraordinary summit has been convened out of concern at the recent turn of events in Zimbabwe. This summit should focus on helping Zimbabwe to find an answer that genuinely reflects the mood of the people.”

He said summit leaders could “no longer continue to stand by and do nothing when one of its members is experiencing political and economic difficulties.”

Mr. Mugabe, 84, who has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, said he was not snubbing the meeting, which three government ministers will attend.

He told reporters: Mr. Mbeki “is going to the summit, I’m not. We’re very good friends, very good brothers. But sometimes we also have other business that holds us back.”

He dismissed comments by Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain that the world was losing patience with him, saying: “If Brown is the world, sure, he will lose patience. I know Brown as a little tiny dot on this planet.”

There were no immediate details of the meeting between Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Mbeki, but a senior Zimbabwean official said Mr. Mbeki had asked for a briefing on political developments following the elections.

Mr. Mbeki met with the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday, but no details of their talks were revealed.

Zambia’s foreign minister, Kabinga Pande, has called for the election results to be released and said, “No decision can be made without hearing both sides, since there is a stalemate.”

Mr. Tsvangirai has been invited to Zambia to explain his stance.

Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change, said the party would ask those at the meeting to stand up to Mr. Mugabe, whom many African still see as a liberation-era hero. “They must be strong and stand up against dictatorship,” Mr. Biti said.

The 14-member South African Development Community, the group meeting in Zambia, has long been seen as toothless in its response to Zimbabwe’s political and economic problems.

Last year it delegated Mr. Mbeki to oversee negotiations between ZANU-PF, the ruling party, and the Movement for Democratic Change to try to ensure a fair and free election, but the talks failed. That prompted criticism of the regional group and of Mr. Mbeki’s policy of “quiet diplomacy.”

The summit meeting appeared to be the best chance to dissuade Mr. Mugabe from cracking down on the opposition. Dozens of opposition activists and supporters were beaten by the police last year after a gathering in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.

Zimbabwean police have banned political rallies, including one planned by the Movement for Democratic Change for Sunday. The opposition has called for an indefinite general strike to begin on Tuesday. Both political parties accuse the other of preparing for violence.

Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, said Friday that Zimbabwe, which is also undergoing an economic meltdown, “now stands on the brink.”

The regional group “must insist that a peaceful and just solution be found to resolve the political crisis in Zimbabwe,” he said.


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Mbeki’s power over Zimbabweans must be removed

Sokwanele

Brothers

I’m struggling to write this because I am angry, I feel sick, and yes, I am crying over my keyboard.

Mbeki, after going to Harare to see Mugabe, says today that there is “no crisis”

I cannot believe I am so upset - again - because whenever I know Thabo Mbeki is about to meet to discuss anything to do with the Zimbabwean crisis, I steel myself for extreme disappointment. He never fails to deliver, so why do I stupidly, even when I expect it, feel dumbfounded when it comes?!

I wrote this last year, which sums up some of my feelings about him. My comments then were in relation to my ‘Mbeki experiences’ in 2004. 2007, I re-visited it again, and one long painful year later, nothing has changed:

That moment, when the realisation that the South African government would do nothing - NOTHING at all - to see justice and human rights restored in our country was the lowest point I’ve ever experienced in the years I’ve been doing my small bit for democracy and human rights in our country. Mugabe can’t bring me this low, because he is evil and I expect nothing from him. Up until that moment two years ago, I’d believed that South Africa, with its history of apartheid and the way it had embraced the principles of Human Rights (they have a Human Rights Bill), would not be able to stand by and watch Zimbabwean people lied to, brutalised and beaten. But they could, and they did. And it took me a long time to pick myself up after that.

I’m afraid to say that I expect nothing from the South African government anymore, and that’s about as damning a statement I could ever make of a government; in fact, the only other government I think I would say that about is our own. I expect nothing from Zanu PF either.

How many years of this type of ineptitude and pain are we expected to swallow from Thabo Mbeki? How likely is it now that SADC, after Mbeki has gone out and made public statements before the meeting, will come out and contradict him.

The loathsome, loathesome man!

Just look at this post here, which sums up his attitude of suppressing any criticism of Mugabe (so called &^%$£ ‘quiet diplomacy’). Or this, if that isn’t enough. Mbeki’s quietness has nothing to do with ‘diplomacy’: it is censorship of the truth.

Thabo Mbeki is an utter disgrace.

It is well past the time now for a new ‘point man’ to be given charge of the mediating through the Zimbabwean crisis. He has failed failed failed. I couldn’t believe it when he was given this job again.

The image at the top of this post is disgusting.

I don’t care how many people tell me its ‘diplomacy’ and ‘african culture’ - to Zimbabweans of all races who also, by the way, share in that African culture, this looks like a reassuring, ‘Don’t worry my brother, I’m watching your back’.

Worse, a friend from overseas called me when he heard the news and said reports on the radio there are that Mugabe took the opportunity to mock Gordon Brown - yet again - and that Thabo Mbeki was heard audibly chuckling at Mugabe’s insulting ‘wit’ in the background.

Utterly unacceptable.

If that and the stinking image isn’t enough, he adds salt to our wounds by saying “no crisis”.

NO CRISIS? Words fail me.

  • Tell that to the ZEC officials who’ve been arrested;
  • Tell that to the many people being beaten right now in Zimbabwe;
  • Tell that to the people (who live in a country which has more than 80% unemployment and the highest inflation rate in the world) who have just had everything they have in the world destroyed;
  • Tell that to us who hear military aircraft overhead, turning our legs to water with the threat;
  • Tell that to all of us who have voted year after year after year, democractically and peacefully, for change.

A destroyed home

I haven’t even scratched the surface. This is a tiny list of things that have happened AFTER 29 March. If we delve backwards we have a morbid heap of human rights violations that pile on and on and on. All of them tied to a face, a name, and a living breathing human being.

I loathe Mbeki.

Which leader in this world is going to have the guts to REALLY stand up for democracy and justice and INSIST it is allowed to come to life in Zimbabwe?

If democracy and peace is to flourish, then the world has to -HAS to - substantively support it.

It’s men like Mbeki who take a nation by its hand and walk it into war.

The first response I got to this news from a friend via sms was “Well, that’s it. Zimbabweans now have to take control”. That was the first response, and since then I’ve had more.

That scares me. It’s not what any of us want at all.

A good first step would be to get rid of Thabo Mbeki as point man. He is a moral lightweight and patently cares more for the opposition leader Robert Mugabe than he does the starving sick dying hurting people in our country.

But kisser

This cartoon, by the way, is available for sending as an e-card from our website. Don’t hold back!


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Mwanawasa: No country "can turn blind eye" to events in Zimbabwe

Monsters and Critics

Apr 12, 2008, 16:13 GMT

Lusaka - Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa Saturday called for peace in
Zimbabwe following reports of attacks on opposition supporters in the wake
of disputed March 29 presidential polls, the results of which are still
being withheld.

Opening the extraordinary Southern African Development Community (SADC)
summit in Lusaka on Zimbabwe's election standoff, Mwanawasa said: 'No leader
nor country can turn a blind eye to events taking place in Zimbabwe.'

'As SADC, we are committed to peace not only in Zimbabwe but in the entire
region.'

No leader could condone violence, Mwanawasa said, referring to reports of
attacks on supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
in recent days by youth militia loyal to President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party.

The ongoing silence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission over the poll
outcome 'has given rise to tension,' the current chairman of the 14-nation
SADC grouping added.

Although the results are still under wraps, the MDC says its leader Morgan
Tsvangirai won outright. Mugabe's party is calling for a second round.

Mwanawasa said he regretted that Mugabe had bowed out of the summit at the
last minute, saying SADC wanted to convey to him their desire for good
governance and 'not put Mugabe in the dock.'

The election crisis in Zimbabwe was of concern to all SADC members who
desired to defend democracy, peace and stability in pursuit of common values
through democratic institutions like electoral commissions, he said.

The eight out of 14 SADC heads of state present at the summit retired into a
closed session.


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Brown says international community can't wait any longer for Zimbabwe election results

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: April 12, 2008

LONDON: The world cannot wait any longer for Zimbabwe to release the results
of last month's elections, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said
Saturday.

Making his second statement on the situation in two days, Brown said the
international community was growing increasingly frustrated.

"We can't wait any longer for the announcement of these results," Brown said
in London, as an emergency summit of southern African nations took place in
Zambia.

On Friday, Brown said in a statement that the international community's
"patience with the regime is wearing thin."

The leader's criticisms over the last two days represent a hardening of
Britain's stance over the political deadlock. Though often critical of
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Brown avoided attacking him in the
aftermath of the disputed elections March 29 amid fears his comment would
stir up anti-British sentiment in the former colony.

"The international community will look to them for a declaration of
elections, and if there is to be a future election, that there's
international monitoring," Brown said Saturday. "It's appalling if there's
intimidation and violence, it's completely unacceptable."
The U.S. said it had "credible reports of violence and intimidation" against
opposition supporters and called on the government to end the attacks.

In a letter to foreign policy spokesmen with Britain's opposition parties
published Saturday, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he is
concerned about reports of state sponsored violence against opposition
activists.

"No one can be in any doubt that these are the measures of a regime whose
legitimacy has gone but whose capacity to rule through fear and
intimidation, though dented, remains potent," Miliband wrote.

"It is clear that there was a majority of people who voted against President
Mugabe, despite the conditions under which the vote was held," he said.

Miliband said Brown will raise the issue during a visit to the U.S. next
week, to emphasize that the world "stands squarely behind the Zimbabwean
people in their desire for a change of course."

Some British officials have said that if Mugabe wins a presidential runoff,
by fraud or by force, the prospects for his government are short term, and
he would likely retain power for only a matter of months.

One diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity
of the situation, said Western nations could consider taking matters to the
U.N. Security Council, if violence becomes widespread and the aftermath of a
Mugabe presidential election win led to a regional crisis and new exodus
from the country.

Brown said the whole international community is still looking for proof that
the polls were free and fair.

But Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has dismissed Brown's criticism. He
called the British leader a "little tiny dot," on the world stage.

Independent tallies suggest Mugabe lost the March 29 vote, but that a runoff
would be needed because no one won more than 50 percent of the vote.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he won outright and has traveled
the region in recent days asking neighboring leaders to push for Mugabe to
resign after 28 years in power.


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Gordon Brown is "little tiny dot" on world stage, Mugabe says

Monsters and Critics

Apr 12, 2008, 15:37 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe had sharp words for
Prime Minister Gordon Brown after the British leader issued his second call
in as many days for the release of results from Zimbabwe's March 29
elections.

'Brown is the world?' the 84-year-old Zimbabwean leader asked rhetorically
following a meeting in Harare with South African President Thabo Mbeki.

'Brown is a little tiny dot in this world,' he said scathingly.

Mugabe was reacting to Brown's call for the official results of the
presidential elections, in which opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has already claimed victory over Mugabe, but
Mugabe's party is calling for a runoff, saying neither won outright.

'The whole eyes of the world are on Zimbabwe,' Brown said, urging 'proper
international monitoring' if the election goes to a second round.

Mugabe met Mbeki before the South African leader flew to Zambia for an
emergency meeting of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community on
the tensions in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe is boycotting the summit, which Tsvangirai is attending and which is
expected to call for the urgent release of the election results.

'Sometimes we have other business that holds us back,' Mugabe told
reporters, assuring his no-show in Zambia was not a snub to his neighbours,
who were still his 'very good friends,' his 'brothers.'


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Chants greet Tsvangirai

News24

12/04/2008 16:00† - (SA)

Lusaka - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai arrived on Saturday
at a summit of regional heads of state called to discuss the post-election
crisis in his homeland.

Tsvangirai was greeted by chants of "President, President" as he arrived,
but made no comment to reporters.

He was the first of the summit guests to arrive and entered shortly after
the host, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa.

Tsvangirai accuses Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe of delaying the result
of the March 29 presidential election and of launching a campaign of
intimidation that would render a run-off vote undemocratic.


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Me or Tsvangirai,Mugabe tells SADC

Zimbabwe Metro

tsvasadc.jpg
Morgan Tsvangirai,MDC President, right and Tendai Biti MDC Secretary General, left on the front row seat at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) extraordinary meeting on Zimbabwe at the Mulungushi International Conference Center in Lusaka, Zambia

President Robert Mugabe told SADC chairman Levy Mwanawasa,that if Tsvangirai addresses the SADC meeting he will not attend. Mwanawasa then dropped a planned keynote address from Tsvangirai in return for him to attend,but still Mugabe was adamant that he cannot be at the same summit with the opposition leader.Sources tell Metro.

He fumed at Mwanawasa and told him that Tsvangirai has no right to defend himself as he has nothing to defend.

The summit to discuss the post-election crisis in Zimbabwe has just in the started in the Zambian capital Lusaka.

The meeting of heads of state of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) was opened by the body’s executive secretary Tomaz Salomao, before Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa took the stage.

Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his delegation were seated in the front row looking on as the SADC leaders began talks.

Just before the meeting the ZANU PF delagation fumed.

“Inviting an opposition leader to a heads of state meeting is unheard of. We will not accept Tsvangirai to be part of this meeting,” Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told AFP in the Zambian capital ahead of the summit.

“This summit is clearly sponsored by the British government. We heard about it from our British sources long before SADC made the announcement,” he said.

Mugabe has chosen not to attend the extraordinary summit of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) convened to try and break the political crisis in Zimbabwe following elections a fortnight ago.


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Zimbabweans enraged by Mbeki's 'no crisis' claim

SABC

April 12, 2008, 15:45

Several Zimbabwean civil society groups are demonstrating outside the venue
in Lusaka, Zambia, where the SADC emergency summit on Zimbabwe is to take
place.

The demonstrators are holding up banners with slogans like "How can Mbeki
say there is no crisis?" referring to the statement President Thabo Mbeki
made after talks with Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe in Harare.

Mbeki, who was on his way to Lusaka for the SADC summit, said there was no
post-election crisis in Zimbabwe, and urged people to wait for the
announcement of the presidential results.

After the talks with Mbeki, Mugabe was asked by various journalists to
confirm that he wouldn't be attending the Lusaka summit.


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Govt, Allies Attack Zambian President



allAfrica.com

12 April 2008
Posted to the web 12 April 2008

As southern African heads of state gathered in Lusaka to discuss Zimbabwe's
political crisis on Saturday, the Harare government and its allies launched
an attack on Zamibian President Levy Mwanawasa for convening the summit.

Mwanawasa "has clearly overstepped his boundaries," wrote a columnist in
Zimbabwe's government-controlled Herald newspaper on Saturday. Nathaniel
Manheru, a pseudonym for President Robert Mugabe's spokesman, George
Charamba, disparagingly called the Lusaka meeting "Levy's summit, for that
is exactly what it will be..."

He added that the meeting was "supposed to do the bidding of the white
West... I am sure if African leaders show up... many of the founding fathers
of this great region... will turn in their graves."

Mugabe is boycotting the summit. One of three cabinet ministers representing
Zimbabwe, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa claimed to Agence France-Presse
in Lusaka that the meeting was "sponsored" by the British government.

He also vigorously protested the fact that Mugabe's principal challenger for
the presidency, Morgan Tsvangirai, had been invited. "Inviting an opposition
leader to a heads of state meeting is unheard of," he told AFP. "We will not
accept Tsvangirai to be part of this meeting."

----------

Comments

Author: nikos.retsos
Robert Mugabe's cabal of advisers and confidants in the ZANU-PF party are in
disarray after the loss of last month's election, and attacking the Zambian
President, Levy Mwanawasa, for trying to help Zimbabweans resolve the
election's stand off is an act of desperation. They have been in power for
28 years, and during those years they have turned Zimbambwe into a beggar
nation. And in last month's election, the hungry people of Zimbambwe said:
"We are fed up with Mugabe's revolutionary slogans, and now we want change,
food, and prosperity -like our neighbors.

And that is where the desperation of Mugabe's camarilla begins. After 28
years of mismanagement, beating opponents, razing their homes with
bulldozers, arresting journalists and prosecuting editors for slandering the
government, and living the high life while the population became
impoverished, they know that an opposition government will hold them
accountable for those abuses one day. They, therefore, see the mediation
effort by the Zambian president as a process that will bring them that
doomsday closer, and they stall the results of the election results and
cling in power until they figure out what to do. And their choice seems to
be a run off election which they can ring it, win it, and beat and lock in
prisons anyone who disputes it. But that will create more upheaval in an
already chaotic situation, and that is what the conference of the
Sub-Saharan States Conference tries to resolve.

Mugabe and his clique, though, see the conference as outside interference to
force the results of the elections on them. They have already stated that
even if Zimbabwe's Supreme Court, which is hearing the case, orders the
release of the election results, they will NOT comply! If they do, they will
find themselves out of power, and they may have to run out of the country,
or stay in and wait for the knock on the door one day from the police
serving them with arrest warrants for the crimes and abuse of power they
have committed during those 28 years that turned the former prosperous and
white governed Rhodesia into the present day human wasteland of Robert
Mugabe's Zimbabwe. . Nikos Retsos, retired academic.

---------------

Author: onesoulzim1
Mwanawasa is objective, we can't afford to ignore the crisis of not
announcing the election results. The problem is Zanu and MDC-T have started
to campaign for a run-off. The Herald is again on the campaign trail trying
to make Mugabe a strong character while tsvangirai is going to the
international community to degrade Zimbabwe. Mwanawasa and SADC must be able
to tell Tsvangirai that the problem in Zimbabwe now is with ZEC and he must
consult his representatives in ZEC. Tsvangirai must not try to make the
electorate cowards because we install leaders here and we might even install
him very soon or never. I also hope that SADC shuts up British Brown and
advise him to have elections in his country.

--------

Author: pattamadai
Robert Mugabe is a good example to cite for believers in colonial rule. He
has single-handedly destroyed a once-prosperous nation. At 84, he may not
have the will or the energy to persist with this destruction, but at least a
generation and a half have enriched themselves by supporting him. This lot
have put themselves into a corner and care for nothing other than their
survival and they will resort to utter bloodshed rathen than give in. What
the African community must remember is the 'peace at any cost' is often not
worth the price.

True, the world of international politics is not quite as straight-forward
as a 'surrender or die' alternative to people such as Mugabe and his crowd.
Neither should it be a world of endless talk an no action. Intransigence
backed by ruthlessness and viciousness does not understand anything other
than brute force.

At 84, Mugabe might not have the will to continue this ugliness, but the
generation and a half that have used his name to enrich themselves do.
Penned into a corner by their own greed and short-sightedness, many of them
would rather force the bloodshed rather than give up. There is no simple
answer to the current problem. My view, based on observation is that a
transformation roadmap - which includes the use of force to remove Mugabe
and his aides - needs to be drawn up. Africa needs to give Morgan Tsvangirai
and the MDC a lot ore support than it has to date.


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Southern African speakers of parliament urge Zimbabwe solution

africasia

JOHANNESBURG, April 12 (AFP)

Southern African speakers of parliament on Saturday urged regional leaders
meeting on Zimbabwe to use their influence to bring about a speedy solution
to the country's post-election crisis.

"We trust that you will be able to use your wisdom and influence to resolve
this impasse speedily in the interest of peace and stability in Zimbabwe and
in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region," read a
statement from the speakers who are holding a parliamentary meeting in Cape
Town.

The statement, addressed to SADC heads of state meeting in Lusaka, was
signed by speakers of parliament from Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South
Africa, Swaziland and Zambia.

They joined an international chorus calling for the immediate release of
presidential results from Zimbabwe, which held general elections two weeks
ago on March 29.

The failure by the electoral commission to release the outcome, and
resulting tensions in the southern African nation, led SADC chairman and
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa to convene the emergency talks.

However South African President Thabo Mbeki, whom SADC appointed to mediate
the crisis before the poll, told reporters there was "no crisis" in
Zimbabwe, after a brief stop in the neighbouring country before heading to
the summit.

After a meeting with President Robert Mugabe, who chose not to attend the
summit, Mbeki said there was a "normal electoral process" underway and
people should wait for the election commission to announce the presidential
result.

Mbeki has often come under attack for his "quiet diplomacy" approach to the
problems in Zimbabwe, and as mediator and regional heavyweight he will play
a crucial part in the SADC talks.


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Mugabe's stranglehold on Zimbabwe

BBC

As the crisis and uncertainty surrounding Zimbabwe's recent election continues, Richard Downes reflects on his recent month-long visit to the country, where many people are desperate for change.

A person carrying a child and holding a Z$50m note (Photo: Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images)
Spiraling inflation has seen the introduction of a Z$50m note
As I sat in the coffee shop in the airport fiddling with my bill, I reflected on the extraordinary state of affairs in Zimbabwe.

I had just bought two cups of tea and two glasses of water and, reaching into my bag, I took out a massive wad of Zimbabwean dollars.

New and crispy Z$10m notes. Clean and sleek.

Then I looked at the bill. The charge was Z$204m. That would make a serious dent in my brick of notes.

The Zimbabwean dollar is one of the most worthless currencies in the world so any notions of being a millionaire, or even a billionaire, lasted all of a few seconds.

Not so long ago Z$204m would have bought you a highly profitable gold mine in the south of the country, near Kwekwe. A huge plant with hundreds of employees and land and buildings.

A year or so later it would have bought an estate of expensive houses in one of the more salubrious suburbs of Harare.

Even quite recently, you could still have bought a car with Z$204m, but today all you can get is a measly cup of tea. It is a pathetic state of affairs and a sign of the depths to which the country has fallen.

Clinging to power

Paul Connolly has plenty of experience of the collapse of Zimbabwe.

Victoria Falls
Zimbabwe's side of the Victoria Falls has seen a fall in tourism
I met him as he was conducting one of his unique tours on the Zambezi river, navigating 63 men and women around obstacles both natural and animal - a hippo here, a fallen tree trunk there. They were having a marvellous time under Paul's masterful direction.

He used to conduct these tours and run his large successful tourism venture from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and although he still lives there, he has transferred all his business across the water to Zambia.

At least there, he remarked, the government is rational and relatively stable. He now employs more than 20 people in Zambia.

Zimbabwe, he told me, has become a pit. The whole nation has been dragged down by a ruthless politician with no regard for his own people, only a burning desire to cling on to power.

Zimbabwe in the past has proved that an African country can educate its people, provide them with healthcare, have banks that work, shops that sell goods and hold its head up high

"One man, just one man," he said, shaking his head. "That's what I can't get my head around," he told me.

Yes, the whites clung on to colonial notions and failed to embrace a new non-racial Zimbabwe. Yes, the Western countries showed little real interest in the problems of this developing country, but to destroy the country to stay in power, that is what Paul found so hard to comprehend.

Systematic looting

And he is not alone.

Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe has dominated Zimbabwe's politics since 1980
Over nearly four weeks in Zimbabwe it was hard to find anyone who had a good word to say about Robert Mugabe.

Most would spontaneously offer the comment that it was time to change.

Others would eye me warily and say, "Things are not good, we need something different." It was code for getting rid of Mugabe, and not very subtle at that.

Zimbabwe matters to Paul and to the many other Zimbabweans for very practical, concrete reasons. But it is also very important to the continent as a whole.

Zimbabwe in the past has proved that an African country can educate its people, provide them with healthcare, have banks that work, shops that sell goods and hold its head up high among the nations of the world.

Under Robert Mugabe, the country has been systematically looted by the top brass in the army and the ruling party
More recently it has also proved that this infrastructure can be destroyed surprisingly quickly. Up to the mid-1990s Zimbabwe functioned very well.

Agriculture produced, services functioned and the state invested heavily in education, producing the most educated population in sub-Saharan Africa. Life expectancy was just over 60 years.

That is where Zimbabwe was and where it could be in the future, but it is not where it is now.

Corrupt system

At present Zimbabwe's situation is perilous. Under Robert Mugabe, the country has been systematically looted by the top brass in the army and the ruling party.

They have got rid of most of the white farmers who produced the basic wealth of the country. They control a deeply corrupt foreign exchange system that guarantees a few top dogs in government and the army millions of US dollars in hard currency every month.

People still have hope for Zimbabwe and I am one of them
Virtually every aspect of life and the economy has been controlled by army people or members of the ruling Zanu-PF party. And they owe it all to Robert Mugabe.

In that context, how would they ever allow the opposition to win the presidential election?

Stranglehold

The next round of Mugabe's onslaught is well under way. The opposition says violence against its members by the ruling party has intensified.

A map of Zimbabwe showing Harare, Kwekwe and Victoria Falls
People still have hope for Zimbabwe and I am one of them.

But it is crystal clear to anyone trying to look at the country with even a vaguely objective eye that it will only stay at a standstill and even reverse further, if the current leader and his cronies keep their stranglehold on the country and its people.

As I left my cup of tea and made my way to the aeroplane and on to Johannesburg, I checked my bag and found that I still had about a billion Zimbabwean dollars sitting in a pouch.

It is an offence to take Zimbabwean currency out of the country so I volunteered it to the customs officer who was searching my bag rigorously.

"Yes sir, you should leave it here," he said. "It will be worth nothing when you come back anyway."



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Mugabe deploys riot police as region urged to intervene

Sydney Morning Herald

Fanuel Jongwe in Harare
April 13, 2008

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has pulled out of a summit on Zimbabwe's
post-election crisis and tightened his grip on power, banning all political
rallies and deploying riot police in the capital, Harare.

Fifteen days after the presidential election no result has been released and
while Mr Mugabe's ruling party is adamant there will be a run-off poll, the
opposition says Morgan Tsvangirai won outright and will not compete.

Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) called on Zimbabweans
to launch a general strike this week and to stay off work until the election
result is released.

Riot police are stationed on street corners of the capital and there are
reports of threats and intimidation in rural areas.

"There are no actual beatings but militias and war veterans are going around
the villages here in Nyamandlovu threatening people they suspect voted for
the MDC," villager Jawet Ndlovu said from southern Matabeleland province.

The US has urged Mr Mugabe to stop "violence and intimidation" against those
wanting to express their political rights while British Prime Minister
Gordon Brown warned the international community's patience with the
President was wearing thin.

Mr Brown said he could not understand why it was taking so long to announce
the result of the March 29 elections and he was appalled by signs that the
Mugabe regime was again resorting to intimidation and violence.

US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Washington had urged
leaders attending a regional summit in Zambia this weekend to put pressure
on Mr Mugabe. "We are communicating with the leaders who have organised that
summit. And we would call upon them to take a firm stand for democracy in
Zimbabwe," Mr McCormack said.

Mr Tsvangirai was expected to join leaders of the 14-nation Southern African
Development Community (SADC) at the summit in Lusaka yesterday but state
media reported that Mr Mugabe had decided not to attend and would send four
ministers instead.

In a statement issued on the eve of the gathering, Mr Tsvangirai called on
Mr Mugabe to quit and appealed to summit participants to ensure democracy
prevails in Zimbabwe by intervening to end the crisis.

"He should recognise that he has lost and let me get on with making our
great country great once more," Mr Tsvangirai said.

"This is a historic moment for SADC and a defining moment for Africa. We can
show the world that we, Africa, can solve our own problems and safeguard
democracy and the rule of law."

Southern African leaders have been heavily criticised over their traditional
reluctance to criticise Mr Mugabe, who has presided over his country's
economic demise during his 28-year rule.


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MDC plans mass action

The Zimbabwean

†Saturday, 12 April 2008 14:53

.

HARARE
Zimbabwe’s main opposition party has called for crippling mass protests
aimed at forcing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to announce
presidential election results, with party insiders saying the mass action
could kick off on Tuesday.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials said the decision was reached
at an extra-ordinary National Executive meeting held by 50 members of the
party’s top leadership on Thursday.
The leaders also resolved to reject the planned recount of ballots because
ZEC has already tampered with the ballot boxes.
ZEC this week dismantled the National Command Centre at Rainbow Towers
(formerly Sheraton Hotel) even before the presidential election results had
been announced.
Senior MDC officials are expected to meet again on Monday to review their
decision and finalise the modalities of the action depending on the
determination made by the High Court on their case.
The MDC is seeking a court order compelling the ZEC to announce the results
immediately.
ZEC lawyer George Chikumbirike has argued before Justice Tendai Uchena that
an order demanding the electoral body to release the results would lead to
“dangerous consequences,” insinuating that ZEC was highly likely to defy the
court order anyhow.
The action by the SADC extra-ordinary summit in the Zambia capital, Lusaka,
yesterday would also be a determinant in the final mass action decision.
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa confirmed that the MDC leadership had endorsed
the mass action, but could not be drawn into disclosing a specific date when
it would begin. He would only say the mass action would kick off “soon”.
He told The Zimbabwean on Sunday: “The National Executive has resolved to
involve people in expressing their disappointment over the arrogance of this
regime in not releasing the results of the people and illegally extending
their term of office.
“We have also resolved not to accept any recount of results because they
have already tampered with those boxes in the past 13 days.”
MDC officials said the mass action, which was unanimously agreed to at the
Thursday meeting, would take the form of peaceful nationwide demonstrations.
They said it would not be called off until ZEC agreed to announce the
presidential election results.
On Thursday the electoral commission said it would continue to withhold the
results until the case has been finalized in the High Court.
“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission advises members of the public that the
issue of presidential election results is now a subject of the High Court,”
ZEC spokesman Shupikai Mashereni said.
But Chamisa said: “We are not interested in ZEC’s antics and foolish
excuses. They have demonstrated their lack of capacity.”
Pressure is mounting on the Mugabe regime to announce the results. On a call
from Airforce One on Thursday, U.S. President George Bush is said to have
told Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who is also the African Union
chairman, to deal decisively with Mugabe’s intransigence.
Analysts said given the stubbornness of Mugabe and his apparatchiks, mass
action could be the only option left to the opposition.
Political commentator Ronald Shumba said: “The MDC has clearly demonstrated
in this election that it is the centre of power and it has also proved that
it is a mammoth political party that has the ability to mobilise people.
“The people are left with no choice but to go into a peaceful mass action
and the MDC in that vein is acting responsibly. Mass action is the only
peaceful, responsible recourse out of this misery.”
University of Zimbabwe political scientist John Makumbe said the failure by
the regional and international community to rein in Mugabe meant that
Zimbabweans had to find their own solutions to the problem confronting them.
Ex-liberation war fighters, who have been conscripted into the army as a
reserve force, have warned the MDC against a campaign of anarchy, with
leader Jabulani Sibanda stating “we will defend the country’s sovereignty.”
But Chamisa said: “At the centre of our struggle for independence was the
principle of one-man-one-vote and the sovereignty of the black majority. The
regime seems to be undermining exactly that which we fought for. It’s a
reversal of the gains of our independence.”
Chamisa said it was particularly insulting that the regime could behave this
way during independence month. Zimbabwe “commemorates” its independence on
Thursday.
“Mugabe is felling the tree of independence,” Chamisa said.


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The Zimbabwean Letters



†Friday, 11 April 2008 13:50
Mugabe: The laughing stock of Zimbabwe

EDITOR – Zanu (PF), the party headed by the ruthless nationalist leader
Robert Gabriel Mugabe, lost the election to the formidable MDC leader Morgan
Richard Tsvangirai on 29 March.

†It seems as if Mugabe cannot accept Tsvangirai as the leader of Zimbabwe
and is now busy scheming strategies for an election run-off.On the other
hand, the party heavyweights are calling for a recount of the votes, which
they had already tampered with to suit their objectives for a run-off.Mugabe
will stop at nothing to secure a win, so he is trying by all means to
discredit Tsvangirai just to save his own face.Mugabe failed everyone,
including his own sons. The economy is now a shambles. Industries are
operating below minimum capacity. The education sector has totally
collapsed, such that the pass rate for the past year was below 30 per cent.
The death rate is now at its maximum due to lack of skills to cure
widespread ills. People are being forced to take exams that are unacceptable
in other countries, while the sons and daughters of Zanu (PF) people attend
schools and universities in Australia and other first world countries.Right
now, war vets are busy invading farms in the Masvingo province. Mugabe is
trying to buy or steal the people’s votes. Africa at large is now against
Mugabe and his autocratic leadership. People in rural Zimbabwe are now
born-again MDC supporters. Opposition Zanu (PF) is now intimidating rural
people just to force for a vote in the event of an election re-run.My
message to Zimbabweans is that Mugabe and Zanu (PF) are now history. We are
now in a new Zimbabwe headed by President Morgan Tsvangirai.

TAPIWA, NUST

Shame on Mbeki and southern Africa

EDITOR – I was born in Zimbabwe, and now live in South Africa. Although I
value the shelter and sustenance that South Africa has given me, my home
country will always be Zimbabwe, and the Zimbabwean people my people.I have
watched the years of President Mbeki’s ‘silent diplomacy’ pass, while the
Zimbabwean situation has deteriorated to crisis point. I have tried to
remain hopeful, but the continuing silence from the Southern African leaders
leaves me (and, I’m sure, all Zimbabweans) both frustrated and close to
despair.Where is the freedom and democracy that the countries of Southern
Africa fought for so hard, and with so much blood shed? We seem to have
deteriorated to a continent of victims cowed by the few greedy and rapacious
rulers that have clawed their way to the top and, in order to stay there,
will trample any possible opposition into submission.I do not blame the
Zimbabwean people. They are peace-loving and patient, and have endured years
of intimidation, deprivation and suffering. I don’t know if I would have the
courage to defy injustice and brutality, with families at stake, in the way
the Zimbabwean opposition has. I admire and respect them for what they have
achieved.However, I DO blame the rest of the southern African states. After
all the struggles for freedom, all the bloodshed and suffering, they are now
sitting back while the people of Zimbabwe are pleading for assistance. Why
can’t the southern African nations come out in support of their brothers and
sisters? We all seem to be waiting for the political leaders to speak wise
words. Heaven help us if we wait on the ‘silent diplomacy’ of the last
years!I pray every day for Zimbabwe and the people there. I feel shame for
the leaders of Southern Africa, that they have not had the courage to stand
for the human dignity and justice that is needed at this time of crisis in
Zimbabwe.

MARION VAN DYK, Johannesburg

Help us get rid of the monster

EDITOR – The writing is on the wall for everyone to see. How can you call
for a recount if you don’t know whether you lost or won? Mugabe lost this
election and he is failing to accept it. The international community should
come in and help us get rid of this monster who has made us suffer for all
these years.

ANON, by email

Youth Movement warns of violence

EDITOR –The counting was done immediately after the polls were shut –
generally around 7 pm. The results were posted at the polling stations
immediately and there is significant concern at the failure of the ZEC to
announce these results.There seems to be absolutely no justification for
this delay.We Zimbabwean youths are concerned by the failure to announce the
results. This creates a suspicion in the minds of Zimbabweans that the
authorities are trying to manipulate them to get their preferred party
candidates to win.We are naturally gravely concerned that any contestation
of outcome of the elections is also likely to lead to escalation of
conflict. The elections may trigger serious and potentially widespread
violations of human rights in Zimbabwe.We are aware that the Zimbabwean
government has deployed police, army and intelligence units into the major
cities in anticipation of potential trouble. Of significant concern are the
unconfirmed rumours from the security branches of government that the
incumbent is preparing to declare a state of emergency after announcing the
inaccurate results. This is consistent with the threats by the security
chiefs that hey are not prepared to accept the election results if Mugabe
loses the election.

JOHN VINCENT CHIKWARI, Secretary-General, Revolutionary Youth Movement of
Zimbabwe

Underground Zanu (PF) survival strategy

EDITOR – The ZEC is not an independent commission. The underground strategy
is to pretend to arrest election officers appointed by Zanu (PF) to
manipulate results in its favour.The recent arrival of North Korean
mercenaries and engineers of destruction, added to the existing Chinese Army
instructors and propaganda experts, will see disappearances of vocal
individuals in the opposition organisations.
Zanu (PF) has ruled this country by force from 1980 to date. It cannot
support freedom of expression for the electorate. This is a party
principle.The MDC should form the next government of national unity without
hesitation because the election results will not change, as they were public
consumption. Even the observers witnessed the final results.The SADC and AU
are known to be sympathetic with the old man as a veteran pan-African
nationalist who stole the glory from the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole.
Zanu (PF) is now a wounded cockerel and is now more dangerous than in the
2000 final defeat.
Eliminations of key opposition figure will soon start, as happened to Cde
Josiah Tongogara at the last moment of change to freedom and independence.We
all know Zanu (PF) under the rule of the old man to be ruthless and ruling
by fear, destruction, thuggery and murder. As we speak, killings have
started in rural areas where no-go areas have been put in place to prevent
free movement of people.Zanu (PF) does not care about productive industry
and commerce as long as they remain in power.Zanu (PF) is now above the
United Nations, the International Community, SADC, AU and even above God
himself. They have done nothing to free Zimbabweans from the tight grip of
wild crocodiles of Zanu (PF) and the so-called war vets, green bombers and
the militia.Our prayer is that the powers that be should never, never again
allow Robert Mugabe to be the president of Zimbabwe. We call on all the
forces to counter these hungry, greedy security chiefs from further looting
Zimbabwe wealth. Zimbabweans should resist intimidation of any kind. The
writing on the wall is clear: people want Zanu (PF no more; people want
change now. We want a new government now to improve our destroyed economy.
†THE STREET KID,

ZEC and Mugabe are one and the same

EDITOR – I am really saddened by the criminal acts that ZEC and Mugabe are
getting into as far as the democratic Zimbabweans and the world at large is
concerned. I was in Zimbabwe during the elections and everyone there, even
stupid knuckleheads like war veterans leaders and Bright Matonga, knows they
lost the elections. Now the remnants of Gukurahundi are teaming up to steal
the presidency, l laugh at you slugheads.This time we are going to fight for
what is ours and all democratic Zimbabweans born during the ‘70s and ‘80s
have seen the suffering caused by Mugabe and his bunch of thieves.
Chawakadya Chamuka Mhanduwe!

TERRENCE,


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Not so Bright Matonga on Radio 702

Nehanda Radio

12 April 2008

Zimbabwe's Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga took part in a debate on South Africa's Radio 702.

Trevor Gifford from the Commercial Farmers Union joined in later. Listeners of the station also got the chance to give Matonga a piece of their mind.

In the interest of exposing how shallow Zanu PF arguments are in the face of a glaring election defeat, we have provided a link to that discussion.

Click Here for the interview.


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Zimbabwe: Invasion as Solution

American Chronicle

Sunny Chris Okenwa
April 12, 2008
For good reason I had attempted entitling this piece interrogatively thus:
"Mugabe: Till Death Put Assunder?" and on another occasion I had toyed with
another caption as a replacement for the above: "Zimbabweans Have Spoken:
Morgan is More..." but in the end I had settled for the above title given
the recent worrisome development electorally in the former Rhodesia.
President Robert Mugabe, 84, had vowed prior to the last general elections
of March 29 that the opposition could never be allowed to rule Zimbabwe in
his lifetime as though he were God or that he alone would be the supreme
voter!

Zimbabweans deserve praise for their collective rejection of Mugabeism which
has ensured nothing but cascading economic and social fortunes. They have
collectively said via their votes that Morgan Tsvangirai is more. Morgan is
more than hope for majority of impoverished Zimbabweans who have lost hope
in the ZANU-PF ruling gang of gerontocrats and civilian dictators. Morgan is
more...he's definitely more than the personality cult woven around Robert
Mugabe for close to three decades.

An old woman in her late eighties was interviewed on election day and she
was alluding to change likening the situation on the ground to a "disaster".
She predicted that change was imminent as people were dying of preventable
diseases and hunger. With inflation figures put at over 100, 000% and
millions of Zimbabweans driven overseas by economic misery the Mugabe hold
on power must be broken now.

Zimbabweans have spoken, Morgan is more... More than the skewed land
re-distribution scheme that have not guaranteed any agricultural abundance
that will in turn put food on the poor people's table; Morgan is more than
the haughtiness and presidential paranoia of a Mugabe who have outlived his
usefulness and overstayed his welcome.

Morgan is more in Zimbabwe. In one of the campaign billboards in Harare and
Bulawayo proclaiming "Morgan is More" the voters were invited to discover
the 'moreness' in Morgan. Morgan is more than the foreign lackey or
specifically British stooge the ZANU-PF and Mugabe are making him out to be.
Morgan is more patriotic than Mugabe; he is more than the spineless
opposition leader he has been constrained by circumstances Zimbabwean to be.

It will amount to socio-economic and political suicide for Mugabe to be in
power for another 6 years. Mugabe must not be allowed to die in office. He
must, in his lifetime, answer to numerous human rights violations and
state-assisted murders during his long years in command. Like Taylor, former
Liberian warlord now standing trial in the Hague for war crimes, Mugabe has
a lot to answer for.

It does not surprise anyone conversant with the one-man demented
dictatorship in Zimbabwe that weeks after the general elections the
electoral commission is still withholding the public declaration of the
victor and the vanquished. The ZEC had announced the parliamentary results
which saw the opposition MDC winning the majority seats in parliament. The
world has already known the presidential poll's outcome through mounting
speculations and the MDC itself. The MDC opposition historically defeated
Mugabe's ZANU-PF in the presidential poll even if it did not muster the
constitutionally required percentage to mount the saddle of leadership.

Given that Mugabe understands only the language of violence the concerned
international community are following events with trepidation. With the
Kenyan bloody scenario in mind the venerable Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke
out from South Africa calling on the United Nations to dispatch a
peace-keeping force to Zimbabwe to forestall any breakdown of law and order
with its attendant terror and horror.

Zimbabwe is a classic case of leadership failure of the worst kind. Gabriel
Mugabe may have been a liberation struggle veteran of former Rhodesia and a
brilliant intellectual but his management of power for 28 odd years has
become nothing but a disaster. Some young Zimbabweans born after 1980 have
not known any other man in charge of their national affairs but Mugabe who
projects himself arrogantly as equivalent to a god who is both infallible
and indispensable. This is not only fatally wrong but a fallacy! Mugabe is
not only fallible he's dispensable and non-invincible!

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) must be commended though for doing a
relatively transparent job. Though pre-balloting mechanisms put in place
sought to prevent or minimize electoral mischief the ZEC members discharged
their duties patriotically as against their counterparts in Kenya and
Nigeria. The Mugabe presidential camp, aware and ashamed of the crushing
defeat they have suffered, are responsible for the delay in declaring the
ultimate winner in the presidential election.

Beyond the Zimbabwean presidential election debacle and the Mugabe muddle
however the issue of ballot organisation and management in Africa has come
to the front burner. Why is it that ballotting in our continent is a
delicate cumbersome adventure? Why are losers in the exercise always kick
against their defeat and winners do so in a fraudulent manner?

The answers to these posers are not difficult to conjecture. In the West one
hardly hears or sees violence or accusation and counter accusation of
rigging in electoral contests. But in Africa it is only in Sierra Leone that
a presidential poll was adjudged by the international observers (including
Nigeria's former Senate President Ken Nnamani) as free and fair -- probably
because out-gone President Ahmed Teejan Kabbah was not among the candidates.

Again, the sit-tight syndrome of African leaders or the godfatherism that
has come to stay are partly responsible for this electoral conundrum. Having
tasted the omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience associated with wieding
power, looting killing and committing all sorts of mischief the thought of
leaving power is difficult to stomach. And considering the fates that befell
little civillian dictators like Frederick Chiluba, Charles Taylor and few
others after relinquishing power the tendency to die in office becomes a
major stumbling block to the organization of a semblance of a free and fair
poll.

In Nigeria the April 2007 Presidential election that magically produced
Umaru Yar'Adua as President is still an issue at dispute. Despite the Ogebe
infamous Tribunal's judgement which dismissed the opposition position
against the giddy exercise seen widely as a sham the duo of Gen. Buhari and
ex-VP Atiku have taken their cases to the Supreme Court in order for justice
to be done.

In the event of the opposition MDC party in Zimbabwe expectedly winning in
the run-off in few weeks time (the boycott threat nothwithstanding) and
Mugabe refuses to yield power then the African Union, the EU and the UN
should activate their invasion mechanisms toward chasing Mugabe out of town.
The AU with some strategic foreign support did spectacularly that recently
in the island of Anjouan, Comoros Island, when it moved militarily against
Mohammed Bacar's local dictatorship.

In the end the invasion of Zimbabwe well may turn out to be the only
solution to the Mugabe muddle. Now is the time to put that plan in the
works.

SOC Okenwa

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