Monday, July 08, 2013

(HERALD ZW) Obama, Zulu court controversy

Monday, 01 July 2013 00:34
Hebert Zharare and Lloyd Gumbo

US President Barack Obama has come under fire for abusing his visit to South Africa to meddle in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs while President Jacob Zuma’s international relations advisor Ms Lindiwe Zulu, invited brickbats for parroting the MDC-T mantra of a month-long postponement of harmonised elections scheduled for the end of this month.

Mr Obama, whose presidency is mired in international barbarism from drone assassinations to massive spying on US citizens and the world along with a bounty on whistle-blowers Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, tipped his hand when he emerged from a meeting with Mr Zuma saying ‘‘reforms’’ should precede harmonised elections.

Ms Zulu also weighed in yesterday, calling for a postponement of elections by at least a month to accommodate “basic reforms” to ensure free and fair elections, a stance in tandem with the MDC-T position.

Zimbabweans, yesterday, told Mr Obama - whose visit was greeted by demonstrations from South Africans - to look in the mirror and deal with the mess in his own backyard, including advising his hosts to rein in the South African Police Services who have been implicated in clamping down on foreigners.

The analysts said it was ironic that Mr Obama could talk of the need for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe when his country maintained its illegal sanctions regime through the so-called Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act that was imposed to influence voting patterns in favour of the MDC.

During hearings on ZDERA in September 2001, the then US assistant secretary of state for African affairs Chester Crocker told the US Senate that “to separate the Zimbabwean people from Zanu-PF, we are going to have to make their economy scream, and I hope you, senators, have the stomach for what you have to do”.

It was unfortunate, the analysts said, that President Zuma allowed Mr Obama to abuse their meeting to trash Zimbabwe when the SA leader was supposed to remind his guest that the just-ended GPA abhorred foreign meddling in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.

“Harassment of citizens and groups needs to stop and reform needs to move forward so that people can cast their votes in elections that are fair and free and credible,” said President Obama.

Mr Obama also attacked the new Constitution claiming it does not have term limits for presidents, a claim made authoritatively from a position of ignorance given that section 91(2) of the new Constitution provides for two five-year terms for a president.

War veterans leader Cde Jabulani Sibanda said Zimbabwe is a sovereign nation governed by its laws not the opinions of foreigners.
“Our elections are in accordance with our laws and not according to American laws. We are a free nation and a sovereign people. We are governed by our Constitution and not opinions of other people.

“When we were a colony, an opinion from an American or British leader could change our lives in an instant but we had to fight a bitter tenaciously on those mountains of our country.

“A lot of our people lost their lives and limb but we never fought outside our country but from inside so that we could govern our country by the rule of law and not by the opinion of an American president who is not a Zimbabwean constitution.

“We respect America but we don’t want interference with the internal affairs of our country,” said Cde Sibanda.
Political scientist and Zanu-PF Politburo member Professor Jonathan Moyo yesterday described Mr Obama’s statements as insults to Zimbabweans and progressive South Africans.

He said that the US President was not supposed to bother himself about developments in Zimbabwe, adding the two leaders failed to take advantage of their meeting to discuss negative events unfolding in their countries.

“President Zuma was supposed to have told Obama that as Africans, they were embarrassed because he has violated human rights and the international law and killed people in countries such as Iran, Somalia and Afghanistan. He should have told him that the Africans were not happy with the use of cyber war against Iran. Should have told him that people were not happy with his use of the Internet to spy on the people… he preaches about the freedom of expression while he spies on everyone.

“On the same token, President Obama should have told President Zuma that there was no need for him to talk about reforms in Zimbabwe, while there was massive police brutality perpetrated on Sadc citizens by South African police as well as the massacring on defenseless workers at Marikana Mines,” he said.

“The truth is no amount of propaganda can hide the fact that Zimbabwe is enjoying peace, unity and development…Zimbabweans are the most empowered Africans, thanks to the policies of Zanu-PF. The term of office for the President ended yesterday (Saturday) and that Zimbabwe is now due for harmonised elections according to the country’s constitution, not according rule of Obama or Zuma.

“If they believe in their shared notion that there should be reforms in Zimbabwe first before elections when Parliament’s term has expired, them God should help them…Their notion is unprecedented, uncivilized and unconstitutional,” he said.

The country has reached a point of no return given that the term of parliament has come to an end, the poll dates have been set for July 31, all GPA parties have filed their papers with the nomination court, marking the demise of the inclusive Government.

“This is what Obama and Zuma should have discussed and acknowledged, not to be Zuma’s megaphone. He should not allow himself to be megaphone of things opposed to the rule of law in Zimbabwe,” he said.

Prof Moyo also lashed out at Ms Zulu for making reckless statements on Zimbabwe that the Constitutional Court should extend poll dates by at least a month from July 31.

“Honestly, Zulu should leave us alone; they have enough of their own problems that are worse than ours. This nonsense that the country should be sensitive and give one more month is unheard of because Sadc just said two weeks,” he said.

Prof Moyo said Ms Zulu’s statements since 2008 were bent on causing problems in the country because she kept on referring to some developments many Zimbabweans have forgotten. Former Zimbabwean ambassador to China, Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa said Mr Obama was ill-informed about the Zimbabwean situation.

“He is talking out of terms. He is so near to Zimbabwe yet so far from the reality on the ground. Our nomination process went well with all political parties satisfied with how the process was conducted. The event (nominations) on Friday was incident-free.

“Then we get an American president talking about reforms. From what basis is he talking about those reforms? The eagerness by Zimbabweans to register as candidates demonstrates the measure of confidence in the democratic and electoral process in the country.”

Cde Mutsvangwa said the repossession of land from whites by the Zimbabwean Government was the reason why Britain and America would never see anything good happening in Zimbabwe.

A senior lecturer in the Media and Society Studies Department at the Midlands State University, Dr Nhamo Mhiripiri said, one can draw parallels between yesterday’s statement by President Obama and the one by Mr Johnnie Carson (US Assistant secretary of State for African Affairs) in Kenya just before elections in that country.

“You could draw parallels between what President Obama has said and what Mr Carson also said on the eve of the Kenyan election.
“But international relations etiquette denotes that governments should be discreet when making their allegiances public as they deal with elections in foreign lands,” he said.

Dr Charity Manyeruke from the University of Zimbabwe’s Political Science Department said it was wrong for President Obama to comment about issues that he had no full knowledge on.

“As a statesman it is wrong for Mr Obama to comment about the so-called reforms in Zimbabwe without full knowledge about the situation on the ground.

“The Americans should respect sovereign states in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter and not take sides in internal affairs of other nations.

“It’s a pity that Mr Obama is taking sides, but his statements can be taken in the context that he wants to foment civil strife in the country especially in the security sector.

“What he wants is to see Zimbabwe turn into another Somalia so that the Americans can come in and plunder the country’s resources.

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