|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
But by contrast, some African election observers have said the poll was substantially free and fair.
No matter who won or lost, it was astounding how many guidelines in the run-up to the election were ignored
US Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs
The US Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs, Walter Kansteiner, called for targeted sanctions against Mr Mugabe, saying: "It is a fundamental notion that an election should be free and fair - in this case it wasn't.
"No matter who won or lost, it was astounding how many guidelines in the run-up to the election were ignored. The vast majority were not observed."
France's foreign ministry has echoed those sentiments, saying: "France finds, along with independent Zimbabwean observers, that this election cannot be considered substantially free and fair."
He said Mr Mugabe owed victory to a "systematic campaign of violence and intimidation".
Mr Straw said the campaign had been implemented over a period of months "to achieve one outcome - power at all costs".
But he stopped short of refusing to recognise the result.
But the election has been condemned by Western observers, who said tens of thousands of people, mostly in the opposition stronghold of Harare, were unable to vote.
European Union officials said that while a final assessment has yet to be made there was concern over the fairness of the election.
Pierre Schori, the head of the EU observer mission that was expelled from Zimbabwe, said he did not consider the election free and fair.
"Rather, it is a violation of the people of Zimbabwe," he said.
Mr Schori said the consequences of the election would depend largely on the reactions of neighbouring countries.
"They naturally have both the biggest responsibility and the biggest cause for concern that a chaotic situation may arise," he said.
South African election monitors in Zimbabwe said the election should be considered legitimate and the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, said his country would work with Zimbabwe to help deal with the issues of land ownership and economic recovery.
A 16-member group of Nigerian observers in Zimbabwe has also endorsed Mr Mugabe's victory, saying it had "recorded no incidence that was sufficient to threaten the integrity and outcome of the election, in areas monitored by the team".
Congo rebels' hopes dashed
The BBC's Jonathan Marcus said the election result has widened a split amongst the countries of the Commonwealth that emerged during the run-up to the vote.
He said the differences of opinion over the fairness of the election go right to the heart of the identity of the Commonwealth as a group of democratic nations and could be of considerable significance to its future.
Rebels from the Democratic Republic of Congo said Mr Mugabe's victory was bad news for efforts to end the war in their country, where Zimbabwean troops are fighting on the side of the government.
"If Tsvangirai had won the elections at least we would have gotten some assurance that Zimbabwe will withdraw its troops, but Mugabe will retain his interests in the Congo, by which we of course mean his mineral interests," secretary general of the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), Olivier Kamitatu said.
Mugabe Re-Elected but Victory Widely Condemned
— By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe extended his rule of Zimbabwe for another six years on Wednesday, but the opposition slammed the election as "daylight robbery" and the poll drew a barrage of criticism from abroad.
The United States led Western countries in condemning the conduct of the vote and President Bush rejected it as flawed.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, easily beaten by the veteran president according to official results, said Mugabe had stolen the vote through violence and intimidation and by preventing hundreds of thousands of people from casting ballots.
A deep split appeared between the West and monitors from South Africa, Nigeria and Namibia, who all said the poll was legitimate. An Organization of African Unity (OAU) observer mission said the election was "transparent, credible, free and fair."
Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis threatens to destabilize the entire southern African region. South Africa's rand currency, battered by concern over Zimbabwe, fell about 2.8 percent to 11.88 to the dollar at one stage after the result.
Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede declared Mugabe the winner after results were in from all 120 constituencies. He said the former guerrilla won his fifth term as leader after taking 56 percent of votes cast against 42 percent for Tsvangirai.
In Washington, Bush said the U.S. would consult with its allies on how to respond to the vote, telling a White House news conference: "We do not recognize the outcome of the election because we think it is flawed."
Opposition leader Tsvangirai said his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would not accept the result.
"The election results...do not reflect the true will of the people of Zimbabwe and are consequently illegitimate," he said.
"We foresaw electoral fraud but not daylight robbery."
Norwegian and local observers said tens of thousands of people, mostly in opposition strongholds, had been prevented from voting.
The split between African observers and the West was particularly significant because South Africa and Nigeria are members, with Australia, of a Commonwealth group that will decide whether the 64-nation body should take action against Zimbabwe over the conduct of the elections.
A mission of parliamentarians from southern Africa, in contrast to other African reaction, said opposition supporters had suffered violence, torture and false imprisonment.
At the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was anxious about the situation in Zimbabwe and he urged people who might feel they had been cheated to stay calm.
Zimbabwe security forces went on high alert and erected roadblocks around Harare after the result was announced. Small groups of armed riot police moved into Harare townships loyal to Tsvangirai but the opposition leader vowed to avoid confrontation.
There were no early reports of violence but Amnesty International expressed concern about the danger of attacks against opposition supporters after international observers had left the country.
It said a military presence was building up in towns around the country and human rights activists were under threat.
Several hundred Mugabe supporters danced in celebration and carried mock coffins for Tsvangirai in two Harare townships.
GOVERNMENT DISMISSES CRITICISM
Mugabe's government dismissed criticism of the election.
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo told Reuters the result was a blow to British Prime Minister Tony Blair whom Mugabe accuses of sponsoring Tsvangirai.
"It is a wonderful result for Zimbabwe and Africans, a reaffirmation of African dignity and independence in the face of attempts by the likes of Tony Blair to recolonise us," he said.
But the Zimbabwean Election Support Network (ZESN), an umbrella organization of 38 church and civic groups said: "There is no way these elections could be described as free and fair."
Kare Vollan, head of a Norwegian observer mission, said the poll had failed "key, broadly accepted criteria" and the campaign was marred by violence, mostly against the opposition.
He said thousands of people were unable to vote despite queuing for many hours over the three days of the poll.
Interior Minister John Nkomo accused ZESN of being affiliated to the MDC and called the Norwegians "irresponsible."
Amnesty said 1,400 people had been arrested in what it described as a "politically motivated crackdown."
Analysts painted a gloomy picture of the results of Mugabe's victory both for Zimbabwe itself and the rest of Africa, saying it would discourage badly needed international investment.
"Mugabe might claim he is the winner, but Zimbabwe is the loser with this victory," said political analyst Masipula Sithole.
New Zealand said on Wednesday it was ready to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe if the Commonwealth decided not to suspend the country after the vote, which it said was clearly manipulated.
Britain said Mugabe had conducted a systematic campaign of violence while France and Germany both said the poll was unfair.
|March 14, 2002|
Mugabe's version of democracy
|Sir, Yesterday, March 11, was Commonwealth
Day. To find out what this meant I visited its website. I read a message from
Don McKinnon, the Secretary-General, that included: “Commonwealth Day . . . is a
time to celebrate our diversity and the shared values that bind our people
I discovered that the “most significant” of its Declarations were in 1971 and 1991. In the 1971 Declaration there appears:
We believe in the liberty of the individual, in equal rights for all citizens regardless of race, colour, creed or political belief, and in their inalienable right to participate by means of free and democratic political processes in framing the society in which they live. We therefore strive to promote in each of our countries those representative institutions and guarantees for personal freedom under the law that are our common heritage.
This was issued at the Heads of Government Meeting in Singapore. The 1991 Declaration contains a similar message.
Having regard to current events in Zimbabwe (report, March 13), the timing of Commonwealth Day seems ironic to say the least. But not as ironic as the place where the 1991 Declaration was issued: Harare.
George W Bush says the US does not recognise Robert Mugabe's "flawed" re-election, adding to international condemnation of the result.
He says the US is now in talks with its allies over how to respond to the poll, which Zimbabwe's opposition has denounced as "a fraud".
Mr Bush's refusal to acknowledge the result came after Colin Powell bluntly warned Mugabe that he "may claim victory but not democratic legitimacy".
© Copyright Ananova Ltd 2002, all rights reserved
March 14, 2002
Mugabe win splits Africa and West
AFRICA and the West were embroiled in an ugly dispute over President Mugabe’s re-election yesterday, with America and Europe condemning the poll as a fraud, while African states congratulated him on his “free and fair” victory.
The row, with strong racial overtones, could seriously damage Africa’s relations with Washington, London and other major European powers, who are likely to expand sanctions against the Mugabe regime in the coming days.
It also threatened to split the Commonwealth in half, pitting African and other developing states against Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
The international fall-out came after a day of high drama in Zimbabwe when Mr Mugabe was named the clear winner after a three-day poll with 54 per cent of the popular vote against 40 per cent for his challenger Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mr Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, said that Mr Mugabe had stolen the vote through violence and intimidation and by preventing hundreds of thousands of people from voting. “It is the biggest electoral fraud I have ever witnessed in my life,” Mr Tsvangirai told a press conference. “The election results do not reflect the true will of the people of Zimbabwe and are consequently illegitimate.”
He said Zimbabweans were “seething with anger” at the result, but added: “We seek no confrontation with the state because that is what it is looking for. We foresaw electoral fraud but not daylight robbery.”
But the battle was taken up in London and other capitals. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said that Mr Mugabe’s victory was the result of a systematic campaign of violence and intimidation implemented over months “to achieve one outcome: victory at all costs”.
Britain will tomorrow press other EU nations at the Barcelona summit to expand sanctions against Mr Mugabe and 19 of his top advisers, who are banned from travelling to the EU and whose assets have been frozen. The target list is likely to grow and could include those responsible for orchestrating election fraud.
Last night the Bush Administration said that it was moving in a similar direction. Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, said that Mr Mugabe could claim victory but not democratic legitimacy.
“The US will consult closely with other governments to develop appropriate responses to this major setback to democracy in Zimbabwe,” he said. “Among the responses that we are considering, there is a possible broadening of sanctions against those responsible for undermining democracy in Zimbabwe.”
Similar remarks were made in Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen, where the Danish authorities said that they would halt all aid to Zimbabwe and probably close down their embassy in Harare.
But the threats to turn Zimbabwe into a rogue state seemed to have little effect in the country itself, where Mr Mugabe’s supporters celebrated while his security forces went on alert fearing a public backlash. As Zimbabwe’s Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede declared Mr Mugabe the winner with 1,685,212 votes to Mr Tsvangirai’s 1,258,401, heavily armed combat troops from the Presidential Guard took to the streets.
Dozens of soldiers, carrying rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns surrounded the MDC office in Bulawayo. More troops were deployed in townships around the city and in parts of Harare in anticipation of violence.
Several hundred Mugabe supporters danced in celebration and carried mock coffins — one draped in the American flag — for Mr Tsvangirai in two Harare townships.
Despite the dangers of being associated with the regime,African nations defiantly rushed to confer legitimacy on Mr Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence 22 years ago and now has another six-year mandate.
The observer team representing the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the pan-African group, announced that “in general the elections were transparent, credible, free and and fair”.
President Moi of Kenya rushed to congratulate Mr Mugabe and President Mkapa of Tanzania said that he deserved his victory, adding: “It would be a great tragedy for anyone to determine the outcome of an African election in Europe.”
|March 14, 2002|
Zimbabwe slips away
Zimbabwe has become a burden, so should the Commonwealth face its responsibility or must Africa see to itself?
|MATTHEW PARRIS (Comment, March 9) has
captured the sentiments of most peace-loving Zimbabweans. Of course black Africa
has not been mature enough for self-governance, after all it took centuries for
the English to evolve into a democracy. (Yet sometimes I wonder if we still
understand the true meaning of the word.)
Time is the only factor that will pave the way to peace and good governance in Africa. The only way to eradicate greed and power-hungry despots is through education that has not been tainted with hatred of race. Education is not an over-night realisation of the unknown; it’s a knowledge that grows within you over a long period of time. I am a white Zimbabwean who fled the country 18 months ago for fear of violence and because of the decline of the economy. My business was agriculture-based and when the “violent land issue” started, I saw the future dwindling before my eyes. On occasions I was forced, through legislation, to sell my end produce for less than it cost to produce. I got out before I couldn’t afford to do so.
I, in common with thousands like me, would love to return, but cannot until there is a radical change in government.
The people of Zimbabwe are special and are strides ahead of the rest of Africa when it comes to understanding one another. Colour plays no part in the hearts of true Zimbabweans. I pine for those friends and relatives I left behind, both black and white. Hopefully their nightmare will soon come to an acceptable end.
Kevin Pringle, Cumbria
Their courage is astounding
I MUST take issue with one paragraph of Matthew Parris’s otherwise excellent article on Zimbabwe. He hopes “that if any group must be scapegoated they are the residual white population, for it is small, they are mostly elderly, and a place for all of them can be found here”.
I believe this to be untrue: the white farming population consists largely of families like that of my daughter’s schoolfriend and her husband whose children are working with them on the farm, at university or still at school (some have lost their books and term’s — or even year’s — work when their houses have been trashed), but they are first, second or third generation residents who do not have the wherewithal to leave, and in any case do not wish to.
The courage shown by these people is astounding. Those of us who have been receiving regular bulletins from them as well as what we have all seen in the media can only admire and hope.
Joan Atkins, Cambridge
Where is ‘liberal’ support?
WHILE Matthew Parris was growing up in Zimbabwe (then still Rhodesia) I was sent on my first African assignment for The Times to the Nigeria-Biafra war. Then, and in the following years, I met and interviewed several of the leaders of newly independent Africa – Gowon, Obote, Arap Moi, Nyerere, Kaunda and even Hastings Banda and Idi Amin. The rather naive idealism that many of my colleagues and I had inherited from the 1960s soon gave way to the realisation that democracy meant nothing and that the pursuit of power was absolute.
The degree of brutality and venality in former British colonies varied considerably, of course, and the worst examples were certainly evident in countries such as Zaire and the Central African Republic. But the indignation of the liberal world centred on South Africa: the oppression and slaughter of blacks by blacks was considered as nothing by comparison with the evils of apartheid.
South Africa’s peaceful transition to a multi-racial, multi-party democracy is one of the most encouraging events of my lifetime. Despite its economic problems and the alarming growth in domestic crime and violence, it is one of the most enchantingly beautiful and agreeable countries on earth. Yet somehow I sense that the “Hampstead Hussars”, who for so many years bravely lent their support to the cause by boycotting South African grapes and oranges, don’t want to know any more. Why could this be, I wonder?
John Young, London
The question of expulsion
SHOULD Zimbabwe be thrown out of the Commonwealth? No. Robert Mugabe may be no angel and electoral practices may be seriously flawed, but that is par for the course throughout much of the Commonwealth. The call for Zimbabwe to be expelled comes from the “white” Commonwealth countries and exposes their racist bias in putting concerns about a white minority in Zimbabwe ahead of black majorities elsewhere (in other Commonwealth countries with fewer democratic credentials).
Murray McRobie, Streatham
Quitting the club
THROWING Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth is not an option any longer. It is three months too late to have the desired effect. We should quit the club instead, because whoever wins this so-called election will need billions of dollars to get the economy back on track. The African countries that voted against sanctions should be forced to contribute. However, it is quite obvious that they can’t do this and buy arms, so guess who will get to foot the bill?
David T. Harris, Shrewsbury
Protecting the innocent
WHAT difference will it make if Zimbabwe is thrown out of the Commonwealth? The African countries will say it was a “free and fair” election to protect themselves, and the other countries will not stand up against them. Britain should be a little less concerned about hunting foxes and worry more about innocent people being murdered and maimed. The Commonwealth is doing nothing for the “real” people of Zimbabwe, so keeping them in or throwing them out will not protect the innocent.
Lesley Cripps, Wallop, Hampshire
Sending a clear message
AS THE Commonwealth continues to hold back and does nothing to put a stop to Mugabe’s reign of terror, I can only assume this is a clear message to Mugabe that it is all right to behave in such a brutal and undemocratic manner in order to win an election. I think it is time the Commonwealth was disbanded. Britain should cut the ties that bind her to her former colonies and set them adrift.
Margaret M. Lloyd, Portishead
Mugabe's villainy and Africa's cynical complicity
Robert Mugabe has been declared the victor of a presidential election he has stolen, not won. It is the miserable conclusion of two years of ruthless preparation not merely to rig the vote itself, but to destroy all prospect of a fair electoral challenge to his ruinous policies. Paid thugs in his Zanu-PF party have used beatings, torture, kidnap and murder, in many instances in full view of police who offered no protection, to cow both voters and their would-be representatives. He starts his fifth term in power as a dictator, disgraced before the people he has cheated and before the world.
There is no shadow of doubt about this, even less than there was two years ago in the parliamentary election which gave Morgan Tsvangirai, the former trade unionist who leads the Movement for Democratic Change, the moral victory as well as an impressive 57 out of 120 seats for the MDC. Zanu-PF rigged that election, too; but the voters’ refusal to be intimidated convinced Mr Mugabe that the job had not been done well enough. The popular Mr Tsvangirai was a credible challenger for the presidency. Mr Mugabe then set out to frustrate that challenge by every illegitimate method and parliamentary trick at his command.
The electoral register was rewritten for this contest. Rural voters had to be vouched for by village chiefs, Zanu-PF trusties drawing state salaries. As “proofs of identity” qualifying them to vote, urban dwellers had to produce title deeds, utility bills or rental agreements, effectively disenfranchising hundreds of thousands living in shanty-town shacks. The domestic press was muzzled by laws that made it a crime to print news of which the Government disapproved; foreign reporting was tightly restricted and the BBC banned from Zimbabwe during the election campaign.
Yet even so, under the most intense intimidation, the MDC kept up its election rallies and voters risked beatings or worse to listen. Voters formed long queues, knowing how little their vote would be allowed to count; in panic, urban booths were shut. The turnout itself tells the story: suspiciously low in the towns where Mr Tsvangirai’s support is strongest, highest in those parts of the country firmly in Zanu-PF’s grip.
Thus has the bravest, best organised and most tenacious democratic opposition movement in Africa’s history gone down to defeat. Mr Tsvangirai, aware of the great danger to which protest would expose his many supporters, has appealed for calm. He himself may now, outrageously, be arrested on charges of treason. Mr Mugabe has said as much. A man who, back in 1982, sent in brigades to massacre 20,000 Ndebele must be judged ready to carry out his threat.
Mr Tsvangirai, and the men and women who have conquered their fear in his support, deserve the unstinting support of all African leaders with any claim to democratic legitimacy. They are not getting that support. The Organisation of African Unity, true to its reputation as a despots’ club, has pronounced the poll to be “transparent, credible, free and fair”. Kenya’s Daniel arap Moi has congratulated his “dear brother” on the “confidence and high esteem the people of Zimbabwe hold in you”. Tanzania’s President delights in his “richly deserved” triumph. The observers sent by South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, ferociously mocked at home for their complacency, term the outcome “legitimate”, though they could not quite bring out the words “free and fair”.
The teams sent by Nigeria and the Commonwealth, each headed by former Nigerian rulers who never stood for election themselves, have yet to pronounce. But it is likely that Africa’s leaders will refuse yet again to acknowledge how evil has betrayed African hopes. South Africa and Nigeria, along with Australia, have been entrusted with advising the Commonwealth. If this body splits along racial lines and does nothing in defence of the principles for which it stands, it is finished. So will be Tony Blair’s dreams of a new compact for Africa, with fresh aid to reward a break with its terrible past. Africa’s leaders have a choice between that fresh start, and solidarity with their “brother” Mugabe. Mr Blair must insist at once, and mean it too, that they cannot have both.