Friday, April 18, 2008
By Kingsley Kaswende and George Chellah in Harare
Friday April 18, 2008 [04:00]
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is today expected to preside at the commemoration of Zimbabwe's 28th independence anniversary. But US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee has said many Zimbabweans were unable to celebrate because what should be a proud and joyful day for them was overshadowed by uncertainty and fear. President Mugabe is expected to lead the commemorations at Harare's Gwanzura Stadium in Highfield suburb, well-known for the liberation struggles of the country in the 1970s.
Local government, public works and urban development minister, Ignatius Chombo said all arrangements were in place for the event.
"We were happy with the solidity of the security arrangements, cleanliness of the venue and thoroughfares leading to the venue," he said.
This will be President Mugabe's first public appearance since the harmonised elections of March 29, whose presidential poll results are still withheld by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
The Harare High Court judge Antonia Guvava on Wednesday postponed a hearing on the MDC's new application to block a recount of votes cast in 23 constituencies. The counting is due tomorrow but the MDC is seeking to block the process, citing manipulation of ballots by the ruling ZANU-PF.
Judge Guvava is expected to rule on whether the MDC's legal team will be permitted to file supplementary evidence, or whether the case should be dismissed.
The MDC, represented by lawyer Selby Hwacha, is insisting that the country's amended electoral law Act states that any aggrieved party could contest the outcome within a period of 48 hours, but ZANU-PF lodged their request four days after the final results were made public.
On Monday, the court dismissed with costs an earlier application by MDC to compel ZEC to release the presidential election results.
High Court judge, Tendai Uchena said ZEC was not operating outside the law in delaying the release of the results.
Meanwhile, Ambassador McGee yesterday said it was sad that many Zimbabweans would not celebrate their 28th independence anniversary.
"Independence day provides a chance to reflect on proud achievements, a united sense of purpose and the future. Sadly, as Zimbabwe celebrates its 28th birthday, many Zimbabweans are unable to celebrate. What should be a proud and joyful day for Zimbabweans is overshadowed by uncertainty and fear," Ambassador McGee stated. "Nearly three weeks after elections, the results are still not known, the economic tailspin continues and for many, hope is fading. Even more disturbing are the many reports of violent retribution being carried out in rural communities."
Ambassador McGee stated that since April 8, 2008 there was growing evidence that rural communities were being punished for their support for opposition candidates.
"We have disturbing and confirmed reports of threats, beatings, abductions, burning of homes and even murder, from many parts of the country.
I call on the government to protect human rights of all Zimbabweans, on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the results of the March 29 elections immediately, and for all parties to respect the outcome," stated Ambassador McGee. "In the meantime, I hope that Zimbabwe can find inspiration in the anniversary of its independence to move forward.
Zimbabweans have expressed their desire for change and that will must be respected. I look forward to the day when the United States is able to fully support the government of Zimbabwe's efforts to serve the interests of all Zimbabweans.