Sunday, September 01, 2013

Zimbabwe: Africa versus US, Britain and Australia
By Editor
Tue 06 Aug. 2013, 14:00 CAT

THE Zimbabwean election result is not much of a surprise to many who had been following the politics of that country. What may be a surprise is the magnitude of the victory or the defeat. Many observers of the Zimbabwe politics noticed the decline of MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai's popularity as early as last year.

Even Tsvangirai's Western backers were privately acknowledging that things were not well with their man and his party. It was also an acknowledged fact that Zanu-PF and Robert Mugabe's popularity was on the rise. All the people we spoke to in Zimbabwe within the last two months strongly believed that Zanu-PF and Mugabe would win.

It is therefore surprising that Tsvangirai and his Western backers have difficulties accepting this election result. Anyway, they had invested a lot of money and emotion in a regime change in Zimbabwe. And this defeat of Tsvangirai and MDC is difficult to accept - it's like death. We all know the inevitability of death as a necessary end of life but when it comes, we still have difficulties accepting it.

It is surprising that countries like the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, that had no observers on the ground, are the ones most inclined to reject the election result. Australia has called for a re-run of the poll because of the doubts about the integrity of the electoral role and voting procedures. The United Kingdom and the United States have questioned the credibility of the Zimbabwean elections. US Secretary of State John Kerry described the Zimbabwean election as "deeply flawed" and says the United States "does not believe that the result represents a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people". British foreign secretary William Hague has called "into serious question the credibility of the election".

However, this is a contrast with the observations of the African Union, SADC and SADC Lawyers Association observer missions. The African Union mission head, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, dismisses complaints of fraud, stressing that the African Union observers did not believe any observed irregularities in these elections could change the overall outcome of the poll and passes the Zimbabwean election as free and fair.

The SADC observer mission says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission "conducted its work in a transparent, orderly and professional manner" and that it is pleased that in general, the pre-election phase was characterised by a largely tolerant and peaceful civic atmosphere. The SADC mission also observed that in general voting took place in a free and peaceful environment and ZEC staff conducted themselves professionally and the counting process went well. And that in the course of observing the elections, the SADC mission noted that there was general adherence to the relevant national legal instruments and the SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections. And it concludes its report with a call on all political parties to accept the election results as will be announced by the constitutionally mandated Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. They urge whoever is aggrieved with the results not to resort to violence, but rather to go to the court of law or engage in dialogue. They congratulate the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for holding free and peaceful elections.

The SADC Lawyers Association observer mission described the poll as peaceful and a realistic expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe. The SADC lawyers mission observes that the run-up to the polls was conducive for the holding of democratic elections and the voting process was transparent and that "the elections were done lawfully under the close watch of election observers, party agents and electoral officers".

SADC facilitator, South African President Jacob Zuma, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Chinese government have congratulated Zanu-PF and Mugabe on their landslide victory and have urged all parties to accept the result. Zuma says the result should be respected as observers say it was an expression of the will of the people.

All African official observer missions and the United Nations have endorsed the elections as free and peaceful. It is only the United States, Britain and its dominion Australia - who were not invited to observe the elections - who have joined Tsvangirai in condemning the election.

There is no doubt that the United States, Britain and Australia wanted Tsvangirai to win the election and have invested heavily in him. They are disappointed with his defeat. It's a bitter pill to swallow. But defeat is only bitter if one swallows it. It is time they realised that the days are gone when their will prevailed in the world without question or challenge. And it is not their will that matters in the Zimbabwean election but that of the Zimbabwean people. We hope they have also learnt something from the Kenyan elections, where they were openly threatening the Kenyan people with consequences if they voted for Kenyatta. Again, in Kenya like in Zimbabwe, their man lost.

It's time they realised that Africans strongly detest colonialism and they don't like puppets.

The position that has emerged effectively puts Tsvangirai and his Western backers or masters on one side and Africa and Mugabe on another side, aping the contestation in Zimbabwe over the past decade. The issue is no longer just about Zimbabwe. It is now Africa versus the United States, Britain and Australia. What is now on trial is Africa's own verdict over its own poll versus Western interests. Australia is calling for a re-run, saying without a new election, they won't lift sanctions against Zimbabwe. What type of arrogance is this?

However, Tsvangirai's decision to challenge the election results in court is welcome. But his masters will not allow him to respect the decision of the court if it is unfavourable. And as Obasanjo says, there is no election where everything comes out perfect, but whatever irregularities are found, they should be sufficient to alter the outcome of the election for the result to change. From the observations made by many observers, we don't think this will be possible.

Tsvangirai and his backers should just manage their disappointment, accept the result and start working for the next elections.

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