|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
25 May 2004
TSVANGIRAI’S TUESDAY MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE OF
Zimbabweans join the
We have nothing further to show for the 41 years during which the continent progressively experienced a rapid phase of decolonisation and the accompanying enjoyment of the people’s sovereignty.
Poverty and insecurity have already forced an estimated 3.5 million -- more than a third of the nation’s adult population -- into exile where they live in near-slavery conditions. There is too much poverty and too little growth.
The picture is unacceptable as it fits in the bigger African story of political under-development, failed nation states and general civil strife.
Africa Day offers us
an important occasion to reflect on the post-colonial state of our national
development. For us in
On Monday, the world
watched in disbelief the Sky News interview with Robert Mugabe in which
the desperate Zanu PF leader tried to paint a rosy picture of the situation in
Mugabe shut the door to all avenues for dialogue with the MDC. Despite his advanced age, he further closed off debate on his succession in his own party, thus compounding the confusion within Zanu PF about his retirement plans.
Mugabe put up a brave face, arguing that the contested 2002 Presidential election was legitimate because the African groups that observed the poll had given him the green light to assume power.
The world must have
been amazed to hear Mugabe attack Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize
winner and an indomitable fighter against apartheid. The use of such a violent
and intemperate language against his critics is typical Mugabe-speak. It smacks
of gross intolerance the people of
Tutu commands immense respect among Zimbabweans. He stood up to Mugabe and has criticised the Zanu PF regime for human rights and democratic abuses. It was unfortunate that Mugabe could sink so low as to describe such an international icon as an "an angry, evil and embittered little bishop".
While we have made
inroads in gaining the understanding and sympathy of the region, we believe
When Yoweri Museveni
assumed the presidency of
Museveni criticised the then OAU charter, in particular the clause the discouraged interference in the internal affairs of member states. He also took issue with what he called the “nationalistic camaraderie” among African heads of state and government, which led African leaders to offer blind solidarity to each other’s welfare at the expense of the people.
Much has been said
about the collapse of democracy and the erosion of basic human freedoms in
The challenge facing the continent stems from an apparent refusal to deal directly with post-colonial dictatorships. Having defeated the visible colonial oppression, Africans must now turn to black on black oppression.
Tiny elites who squander national resources and drive their citizens into the Diaspora at the slightest hint of opposition control nations on this continent. As a result, Africans all over the world are angry with their leaders. Africans know that despite their independence, freedom remains elusive. Corruption is endemic.
Mugabe boasted that he is building a personal mansion using timber and roofing
We appeal to the AU to place the Zimbabwean crisis in its proper context. As Africans, the AU has a duty to put pressure on Mugabe and Zanu PF in order to allow Zimbabweans to take charge of their own destiny.
flourishing democracy, without the rule of law, without free and fair elections,
misrepresentation of the situation at home is a worrying point. To assume that
Our own research shows that the 1991-92 drought gave us a baseline figure for minimum consumption requirements for both our people and their livestock. During that time, the monthly sales of maize by the Grain Marketing Board peaked at 150 000 tonnes, equivalent to annual consumption of 1 800 000 tonnes of maize. In addition, the GMB was importing wheat and rice. Wheat sales stood at 480 000 per year while rice was 24 000 tonnes per year. That brought the total cereals requirement to 2 304 000 tonnes per year. This was 14 years ago.
At the beginning of
the current season, there were serious shortages of seed, fuel, fertilisers and
other inputs. Taking into account the failure of the early planted maize and the
late season problems for small grains, our central estimate is production of 600
000 tonnes of maize plus 100 000 tonnes of sorghum. Excluding any
stocks, this would imply a shortfall of 1 200 000 tonnes.
Mugabe was therefore
reckless in suggesting that
The obsession with
Prime Minister Tony Blair was predictable. Surprisingly, Mugabe still thinks the
solution to the Zimbabwean crisis rests with
From the Sky News
interview, it is clear Mugabe sees nothing wrong with the manner in which
Flawed elections are
a key source of
We have stated in the past that our electoral standards are a clear recipe for confrontation and perpetual contest. We have yet to raise the conduct of our elections to the SADC standards to secure a legitimate result.
Since 2000, we have
As we approach an election in March, Zimbabweans remain resolute in their quest for freedom. We are preparing for those elections. All our programmes are directed at that election. We shall do everything in our power to enable Zimbabweans to enjoy our freedom.
We humbly ask
We are confident that the Mugabe regime will accede to reason and allow for a poll to be conducted on the minimum SADC standards necessary for the restoration of genuine, democratic elections.
The SADC norms and standards are an essential pre-requisite to the exercise of our fundamental human rights and must be in place well before Election Day in 2005. They include the following measures:
of the rule of law. Mugabe must end all forms of political violence and
completely disband the youth militias. He must ensure that the police and
security forces are impartial in the conduct of their duties. In addition,
The restoration of Basic Freedoms and Rights. We are asking the regime to revoke those aspects of the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) that curtail personal freedoms of the people. The Public Media must be open to all political parties and individual politicians. Further, all Zimbabweans living outside the country must be allowed to vote.
The establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Elections are very crucial to any country. They are basic right with a potential to make or break a nation. We risk perpetuating our misery if we allow Zanu PF to continue playing games with our electoral system. Already, we are the laughing stock of the SADC region.
Because of our
previous experience, the management and implementation of our electoral process
cannot be left to Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede alone. Mudede has failed the
nation on numerous occasions. His record contains sufficient evidence to
disqualify him from handling another major election single-handedly unless
Mugabe and Zanu PF are not serious about the future of
The restoration of Public Confidence in the Electoral Process. This is a crucial matter. Zimbabweans are fast losing faith in elections because of mistrust. We need a clean and accurate voters roll. The roll must be freely available to interested persons and to all political parties. People must vote in a single day; the counting of votes must be done at the polling station immediately after voting ends. Violence must end.
The restoration of the Secrecy of the Ballot. Voting must take place in an atmosphere that ensures total secrecy. Our ballot boxes must change. We need to use translucent plastic ballot boxes of secure, single piece construction. The regime must stop abusing traditional leaders to coerce their subjects during elections.
Together, we shall win.
Enough is Enough
PROMOTING NON-VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY
We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!
25 May 2004
Sky News feature on Zimbabwe
Sky News is surely to be congratulated on awarding a grand propaganda coup to one of the worlds most vicious tyrants. Robert Gabriel Mugabe who calls himself President of Zimbabwe and is no doubt effectively ruler of that afflicted country after his partys blatant rigging of the presidential election in 2002, was given one hour of prime time on British television this week. One hour for Mugabe and his cronies to duck and dive from the real issues and to peddle their own obnoxious propaganda, which they did so plausibly one might almost wonder if they believed it themselves .
Those of us who respect the freedom of others to express views quite contrary to our own (and that certainly does not include Robert Mugabe), do not take issue with Sky News for interviewing Mugabe and his ZANU PF chefs What we do question however is the lack of balance and fairness shown by Sky News in their reporting. Two points in particular:
First, there was no evidence that any attempt had been made to achieve balance by allowing the opposition MDC an opportunity to respond. In all fairness one would have expected Morgan Tsvangirai and perhaps one or two of his lieutenants to be afforded the same air time as ZANU PF. By the same token was Sky News not under some obligation to put the Mugabe interview into context, by reporting on the situation in the ground in Zimbabwe today, at least including the violence and lawlessness that continue, the famine that threatens and the ruthless suppression of free speech in the land ? Or was it the price Sky News was required to pay for the interview that the oppositions point of view was not put, and that no local reporting was permitted? In which case was the price not too high ?
The second point, which reinforces the first, is that within Zimbabwe there is effectively no freedom of assembly or expression today. Dissent has been crushed and the alternative point of view smothered under a mix of repressive legislation, violence and intimidation. ZANU PF exercises total control of the airwaves and of the state newspapers. The only independent daily, the popular Daily News, was constantly threatened, bombed twice and finally shut down. Journalists and their papers are required to be licensed by a board appointed by and answerable to none other than Mugabes own notorious spin doctor, Jonathan Moyo. The BBC and other international media houses have been banned from the country. Under such an intolerant and repressive regime the obligation to balance any statements made by those in power with the views of those denied a voice is surely all the greater. For Sky News to record interviews with Mugabe and his cronies and not to afford an equal opportunity to those suffering under his cruel tyranny is like if you can imagine such an outrage a British news team visiting South Africa in the darkest days under Apartheid and giving P.W. Botha an hour of prime time viewing while not even bothering to speak to any representatives of the A.N.C.
The damage has been done and the short telephone interview belatedly and hurriedly arranged by Sky News no doubt under pressure from their own viewers - with the Secretary General of the MDC, is not sufficient to restore the balance. The only way to do that would be to provide the same air time as that afforded to ZANU PF to the opposition in Zimbabwe, including not only leaders of the MDC but human rights activists and Church leaders such as Archbishop Pius Ncube, who have to deal with the victims of Mugabes misrule on a daily basis.
When will Sky News do this ?
If you think they should why dont you email the Sky News newsroom now and tell them so?