Thursday, September 05, 2013

(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) Tsvangirai, Obasanjo put under pressure
Saturday, 03 August 2013 23:04
Sunday Mail Reporter

The British and Australian ambassadors to Zimbabwe spent the whole of yesterday shuttling between their offices and the residence of MDC-T president Mr Morgan Tsvangirai in Highlands as they sought to influence the embattled leader to embark on Egypt-style mass protests against the results of the just-ended harmonised elections.

The two diplomats took the decision to put pressure on the MDC-T leader after failing to coerce the head of the African Union Observer Mission, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo to produce an adverse report on the July 31 elections that were won resoundingly by President Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

It is understood the former Nigerian leader spurned the moves of the Western diplomats who wanted to use the adverse report to seek a re-run of the elections.

Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Matthew Neuhaus, confirmed in an interview at Mr Tsvangirai’s residence yesterday that the Western diplomats had indeed met Mr Obasanjo to discuss the results of the Zimbabwean elections.

Mr Neuhaus was later joined at the residence of the MDC-T leader by his British counterpart, Ambassador Deborah Bronnet, as the pressure on Mr Tsvangirai mounted.

“Yes, I can confirm that we (Western diplomats) have met Mr Obasanjo to discuss the elections but that’s all I can say,” said Mr Neuhaus, adding that he had also discussed the results of the harmonised elections with his counterparts from Europe and America.

Impeccable sources privy to details of the meeting that the diplomats had with Mr Obasanjo said the former Nigerian leader vehemently refused to be used to produce the negative report, saying there was nothing to show that the elections were not free and fair.

The AU went on to produce a report commending Zimbabweans for holding free and credible elections in a peaceful atmosphere.

This riled the Western diplomats who then turned to Mr Tsvangirai yesterday and pressed him to continue denouncing the elections and plot street protests in Harare and Bulawayo where the MDC-T won a few seats.

However, Mr Tsvangirai informed the two ambassadors that his party had met and resolved not to resort to any form of violence.

Sources said after realising that Mr Tsvangirai was afraid of going against his party’s decision, the two diplomats then advised the MDC-T leader to push ahead with plans to challenge the election results in court and engage Sadc and the AU in a bid to force a re-run of the elections.

“While taking the legal route and making efforts to engage Sadc and the AU, it was agreed that the diplomats would source funds in preparation for the mass street protests like what is happening in Egypt,” said the sources.

While putting pressure on the MDC-T leader, Mr Neuhaus has already sent a diplomatic cable to Canberra titled “A farcical election” and called for a re-run of the elections.

“It wasn’t credible, it wasn’t fair,” he later quipped. He said he together with his American and Canadian counterparts were in agreement with the MDC-T position that the elections were neither free nor fair.

“It does make a farce of the election process and it doesn’t pass the test of credibility. There’s no intention to remove the remaining targeted sanctions given that the nature of this election is obvious,” he said.

It is now clear that when Mr Tsvangirai realised that he was heading towards a crushing defeat he ran to his Western friends who told him to describe the election as a “farce.” Clearly the Western diplomats have decided to “massively handhold” Mr Tsvangirai as was once advised by former US diplomat Mr Christopher Dell who said the MDC-T leader could not operate of his own volition.

The language by the Australian ambassador dovetails with the rhetoric by the self-exiled MDC-T treasurer Mr Roy Bennett who last week called on Zimbabweans to bring the country to a standstill by embarking on mass boycotts.

However, the call by Mr Bennet found no takers as Zimbabweans responded in a flurry of emails telling the former Selous Scout to stop playing games with their lives. “He is speaking from the comfort of his new found home in South Africa. It’s easy for him to say all that rubbish but if he feels so much for us, why can’t he come back and be on the front-line of the protests? Bennet should stop using us for his selfish gains. We are way wiser now,” wrote one Zimbabwean.

As the Western countries intensified their efforts to discredit the polls, reports say the imperialists had smuggled an MP from Botswana and another from South Africa’s Democratic Alliance under the Southern African Development Community-Parliamentary Forum (Sadc-PF) so that the two could arm-twist the Forum into producing another adverse report.

The two MPs were briefed by the American embassies in their respective countries before they were dispatched to Harare under the Sadc-PF. However, the two ran out of luck as they were sent back home when the Forum discovered their sinister machinations.

Meanwhile, Ambassadors Neuhaus and Bronnet were busy dictating the pace to Mr Tsvangirai yesterday. Local journalists who had been called to cover a Press conference which the MDC-T leader was set to address, struggled to get into the Press conference while their white counterparts were given red-carpet treatment at the outgoing PM’s residence.

The journalists had a torrid time as they had to write down their names and wait for confirmation before being allowed inside. Journalists from Zimpapers and ZBC were the last to the cleared after waiting for quite some time outside the residence.

A journalist from Namibia could be heard saying the MDC-T’s love for Europeans and whites had backfired because instead of campaigning in Zimbabwe over the last four years they were busy globe-trotting in Western capitals. Even after being given the red-carpet treatment, the Western journalists were clearly in a bad mood as they later took Mr Tsvangirai to task, accusing him of being “naïve” by participating in an election that he would denounce after sensing defeat.

Addressing journalists at the Press conference, Mr Tsvangirai called for an emergence Sadc extra-ordinary summit to pave way for new elections as soon as possible. The call by the MDC-T leader is likely to embarrass him even further as both the AU, Sadc, Comesa and even the UN have endorsed the harmonised elections as free and fair.

British ambassador Ms Bronnert and her Australian counterpart Mr Neuhaus attended the Press conference and seemed tense throughout.

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