Mugabe savaged over democracy

via Mugabe savaged over democracy – DailyNews Live 20 July 2015 by Wendy Muperi

HARARE – Analysts have slammed President Robert Mugabe for failing to sign and ratify the African Charter on elections, democracy and good governance, saying the nonagenarian should lead by example as chairperson of both the African Union (AU) and Sadc.

The important charter was adopted by AU member states on June 30, 2007 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia   and came into force in February 2012 following its ratification.

However, eight years later, Zimbabwe has neither signed nor ratified the treaty, which seeks — among other things — to promote adherence to democratic principles, rule of law and the respect of human rights.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said Mugabe’s attitude on the critical convention was a sign that the long-ruling but heavily-criticised nonagenarian was averse to democracy.

“It is well documented that we have a history of violent elections that in most cases are neither free nor fair. There is no interest by Mugabe and his party in democratic, free and fair polls, as such elections would guarantee his exit,” Saungweme said.

He added that while Mugabe, as chairperson of the AU, was mandated to ensure democratic rule in Africa, instead the reality was that “a hyena has been mandated to protect goats”.

“Mugabe neither believes in democracy nor free and fair elections, and it will be phantasmagorical (delusional) to think that Zimbabwe will ratify this charter under the current regime,” he said.

Mugabe’s rule, since Zimbabwe’s independence in April 1980, has been marked by persistent accusations of human rights abuses, electoral fraud, intimidation and violence from the opposition and civil society organisations.

And although opposition forces in the country have been pushing consistently for electoral reforms over the past two decades, Zanu PF is unenthusiastic about this, a situation which recently forced MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to boycott the much-criticised June 10 by-elections.

Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) director, Pedzisai Ruhanya, said it was ironic that Mugabe was chairing the AU when he was flagrantly ignoring the “domestication of critical treaties that enhance democracy”.

“It is ironic that Mugabe being AU chair has not ratified the AU Charter. Let’s challenge him on it. Charity begins at home. What message are we sending?” Ruhanya asked.

Critics also claim routinely that Mugabe is famous for ignoring constitutional provisions for political expediency — pointing out to the fact that even his party’s constitution has been amended several times to entrench his rule.

Human Rights Watch southern Africa senior researcher, Dewa Mavhinga, said Mugabe’s failure to sign and ratify the Charter was an unfortunate confirmation of “hypocrisy of the highest order”.

“Currently Zimbabwe is like the guy who chairs programmes at his in-laws when he has neither engaged nor married. It unmasks the government’s pretence to be a democracy,” he said.

Mavhinga posited that the government viewed the independence and impartiality of national electoral bodies, among other reforms, as peripheral issues — an attitude which compromised the intended purpose of the Charter to safeguard political stability and good governance.

But another political analyst, Charles Mangongera, said even if Mugabe signed and ratified the AU charter, this would not in itself guarantee reforms in Zimbabwe “given Mugabe’s lack of respect for constitutionalism”.

“Even if Zimbabwe were to sign the Charter, I do not think that it would make much of a difference given the fact that the AU lacks sanction mechanisms for errant countries.

“Zimbabwe is a member of Sadc but it has constantly flouted the rules of elections as enunciated in the Sadc guidelines on democratic elections, without any censure from the regional body,” Mangongera said.