Sunday, April 13, 2008

See no crisis, hear no crisis and speak of no crisis

So, leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community met for an unprecedented 12 or 13 hours. Turns out the issue that took most of their witching hour deliberations was whether to call the situation in Zimbabwe “a crisis” or not.

In the end, after a whole night, they announced their decision to compel the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the presidential results – as if they were the first to call for that.

To crown it all, they declared that there is “no crisis” in Zimbabwe. No prizes for guessing where that phrase originated from. Here is a hint through – South African president, Thabo Mbeki passed through Harare on his way to Lusaka.

No Crisis
A simplified dictionary definition of a crisis says it is a “critical moment”. Politically, one could define it as “an unstable and dangerous situation”.

Now, let’s put this in context. Zimbabweans voted on March 29. Two weeks later they have not been told who their choice for president is. The Movement for Democratic Change claims that its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai won. They are supported by the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network.

The ruling party does not dispute that Tsvangirai may have won but they have demanded recounts, a run-off and now a re-run. Mugabe has reconstituted his dissolved cabinet including MPs beaten in the election.

The army and police have been deployed massively, war veterans and Zanu PF zealots are re-occupying farms and, slowly but surely, information and evidence of people being tortured is coming out.

The economy is at a virtual standstill.

All this does not constitute a crisis to SADC leaders. It is normal for Mbeki to host more than three million Zimbabweans in his country. It is normal for Mwanawasa to see Zimbabwean mothers and young girls prostituting themselves on the streets of Lusaka.

It is no crisis for President Khama to have Botswana’s commercial sector clogged by Zimbabwean professionals seeking refuge in his country and President Armando Guebuza sees no crisis when Zimbabweans cross the border everyday to seek jobs on Mozambican farms.

Ah, handina remuromo (I am lost for words).


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Zimbabwe Election Crisis: Can we trust SADC?

So, SADC leaders will meet on Saturday to tackle the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Can we really trust these spineless men who seem to be “awed” every time they are in the presence of Robert Mugabe? They always appeared so dazzled that they literally flaunt their wimpish deferment to him.

Watch my word, come Saturday afternoon, all we will hear is gibberish about “African brotherhood” and perceived “western imperialistic forces” only they can see lurking along their borders with Zimbabwe.

This will be the third time these leaders are meeting over Zimbabwe in just one year. The previous two meetings turned out to be talkfests whose achievements were to endorse Mugabe’s brutality against the opposition and unbridled plunder of the economy.

One really wonders what kind of hold Mugabe has over the SADC leaders. Most of them are a generation younger and all of them replaced their countries’ founding leaders, some three or four times over. Why they do not see the need of that democratic process in Zimbabwe boggles my mind.

The question that keeps bothering me is whether these leaders are with the people of Zimbabwe (as they should be) or against. In fact, this is the answer they will provide on Saturday, whether by design or default.

I mean, we all know what Zimbabweans need. They voted, as required by the democratic principles SADC promotes. But they have not been told who won.

So, Zimbabweans expect SADC to tell Mugabe to let the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announce the results of the March 29 presidential election. That is what the Zimbabwe constitution demands, that is what SADC should demand and that is what Zimbabweans deserve.

But, I can predict to you now that you will not hear any of them utter that demand. Not when old Bob is eyeing them from one corner of the room.

Actually, it is rather curious that Mugabe, after initially calling for a run-off, has now changed his mind to demand a re-run. To back up his demand, he has claimed some superficial irregularities.

He cried foul over some 8,600 votes (as if they would make a difference) and dragged some poor ZEC officials to court for prejudicing him of as little as 51 votes in one constituency – how pathetic.

But hey, a man is gotta do what a man is gotta do, right!

So, now with that flimsy evidence, he will dazzle his fellow comrades with his usual oration, threaten any dissenters with that withered fist and they will all fall in line.

Mark my word, SADC will call for a re-run “at such a time when the atmosphere is right to do so” – an indefinite endorsement to Comrade Mugabe.

So much for “African brotherhood”.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Presidential results: High Court joins the delay game

Nine days after the historic presidential election in Zimbabwe on March 29, the result has not been released and it may never be.

After a promising election process that was remarkable for its peaceful conduct, Zimbabweans and the entire world expected an equally orderly counting process and everybody expected that by now there would be a duly elected president ready to be inaugurated on Independence Day, April 18.

Instead, the world has watched in disbelief as the army-led Zimbabwe Electoral Commission dilly-dallies with the results.

Electoral rules stipulate that a maximum of six days is allowed for the announcement of results and ZEC met that stipulation only in relation to the senate, parliamentary and council elections that were conducted concurrently with the all important presidential poll.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change’s leader, Morgan Tsvangirai has declared himself the winner over long-time national leader, President Robert Mugabe of Zanu PF and two independents, former minister, Simba Makoni and political upstart, Langton Towungana.

Tsvangirai based his declaration on figures tabulated and released by his party (from results posted outside polling stations) and those collected by the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network. Those results put Tsvangirai’s tally at 50.3% against Mugabe’s 43.8%.

If those results are correct, they put Tsvangirai above the 50% plus one vote stipulation to win the election. There are reasons to believe the results are correct. ZEC and Zanu PF are not disputing them. Instead, ZEC has continued to postpone announcing its own totals while Mugabe and his party have called for a recount and are preparing themselves for a re-run.

MDC has appealed to the High Court to compel ZEC to release the results. The High Court has also joined the delay game. On Sunday Justice Uchena said he would decide on Monday if the case can be heard. On Monday he determined that, yes, he could hear the case but will determine on Tuesday if it is urgent or not. So, the game continues.

Meanwhile, Mugabe and his party have revved up their campaign for a second round, even though none has been declared. War veterans have been reactivated and there are reports of fresh farm invasions. The opposition alleges that the army has stepped up recruitment and Zanu PF youths (Green Bombers) are being reactivated.

The government propaganda machinery is working overtime to incite Zimbabweans with stories of white farmers returning to “forcibly occupy their former land” and allegations that the opposition is planning to hand over the economy to whites.

The international community seems powerless, reduced to making the feeble noises of “release the results now”. Noises that fall flat on Mugabe’s “hard to hear” ears.

South Africa, ever the prop on which Mugabe stands against international condemnation, repeats the mantra “let’s all be calm and wait for the results”.

Meanwhile, Zimbabweans have gone back to their miserable lives, invoking their various gods to intervene SOON.