Wednesday, March 06, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) The world is watching, UK warns Mugabe

The world is watching, UK warns Mugabe
05/03/2013 00:00:00
by Joseph Mashizha

BRITAIN has said this year’s elections represent a key test for President Robert Mugabe and warned that the world would be watching to see if the Zanu PF leader respects the will of the people.

Speaking Tuesday after the government said the European Union (EU) and the United States would not be allowed to monitor elections expected later this year, London’s top envoy in Harare warned that the ‘international’ community would still keep a close eye on developments in the country.

“Zimbabwe is entering a critical period,” Ambassador Deborah Bronnert told reporters at a press conference.

“This year will be a real test of whether President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party are truly committed to democracy and reform or whether he is only committed to keeping hold of power.”

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 but barely scrapped through the biggest challenge to his lengthy stay in power in 2008 after losing the first round of the Presidential vote.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai edged the veteran leader at the first time of asking but pulled out of the run-off vote, accusing Mugabe of brutalising his supporters.

The regional SADC grouping later intervened, forcing the rivals to form a coalition government that is credited with helping ease political tensions and reversing years of economic decline.

New elections are expected later this year to end the uneasy coalition but the UK warned that the decision to bar EU and US monitors would likely undermine the credibility of the polls.

“I have to say if Zimbabwe is to hold a free and fair it would be useful for it to invite a whole range of observers to validate that the elections were held in a free and fair manner,” Bronnert said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengewi said Monday that countries maintaining sanctions against Zimbabwe would not be allowed to monitor the March 16 constitutional referendum as well as the general elections.

The EU and the US imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe more than a decade ago accusing Mugabe and his Zanu PF government of electoral fraud and human rights abuses.

[Nonsense. They were sabotaging the government as early as 1997, when accoring to Claire Short's adviser Soni Rajan, they reneged on paying white farmers compensation for land reform, because they thought not financing land reform would make President Mugabe less popular in the rural areas. He said no to Structral Adjustment in 1996, that was the problem. - MrK]

But Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo said it was “foolish” of the EU to expect to be allowed to monitor elections in the country.

“No rational country can invite an enemy into the house. The sanctions they imposed on Zimbabwe are not a friendly gesture, but an act of aggression,” Moyo told the Herald.

“It may be the case that the EU has a credible reputation elsewhere, but it certainly does not have a credible reputation in Zimbabwe because it imposed illegal economic sanctions on Zimbabwe outside the international law and United Nations systems.

“The elections are not elsewhere, but in Zimbabwe and only credible groups and countries that have not been partisan can come and observe the elections.”

Bronnert, meanwhile, also expressed concern over the police clampdown on civil society organisations and reports of renewed political violence.
“We are concerned about about the seizure of shortwave radios from Zimbabweans,” she said.

“Radio Dialogue in Bulawayo is the latest Civil Society Organisation to have their offices raided, with shortwave radios confiscated by the police and their staff arrested.

“Possession of shortwave radio receivers is not illegal. Many Zimbabweans, especially in the rural areas have since before Independence relied on shortwave radio as a key source of information on current issues.”

The envoy also condemned the alleged firebombing of the Headlands home of MDC-T official, Shephered Maisiri, which killed his 12-year-old son.

“(We) understand (Maisiri’s) home and family have been the targets of various incidents of political violence over past decade,” she said.

“We are very concerned by this and other recent incidents. We hope that all Zimbabwean (political) parties can be clear that violence is not acceptable. Zimbabweans deserve better than this.”

Police have since ruled out foul play in the tragedy but the MDC-T insists the youth fell victim to a politically-motivated Zanu PF attack aimed at his dad. Zanu PF has denied any involvement.

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