AU complicit in Zimbabwe election fraud
The announcement by Olusegun Obasanjo, the head of the African Union’s election-monitoring mission, that in its opinion, Zimbabwe’s recent polls were “free, fair and credible” represents an enormous blow to democracy in Zimbabwe and sends a signal to African leaders and to the world that in Africa you can get away with anything, even the most blatantly rigged election.
The AU’s endorsement of the deeply flawed voter-registration and electoral process amounts to complicity in one of the most horrendous frauds and human-rights crimes, one spanning more than 30 years.
How is it possible to endorse an election in which the chief commissioner of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Mkhululi Nyathi, resigned on election day, citing irregularities in the electoral process before a single vote had even been cast?
Here we are yet again after yet another blatantly rigged election. It may have been largely peaceful, but it was far from being free of intimidation. It was characterised by the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands, even millions, of Zimbabweans, who were further defrauded by “ghost voters” and stuffed ballot boxes. And, again, Africa is prepared to look the other way. We have been betrayed by our own African brothers and sisters.
Zanu-PF claims that its aim is the empowerment of the people to take ownership of and to benefit from the country’s natural resources, but this flies in the face of the shameless theft of land, minerals, businesses, money and the rights of ordinary Zimbabweans by a political elite, led by the president and the first lady, that is bankrupt of all legal, ethical, moral and ideological standing.
Obasanjo, how dare you say that no election is perfect, and by implication send the message that “this is Zimbabwe and this is Africa … and this is as good as it gets”? How dare you sell us, as Zimbabweans and as Africans, short? We can do better than this farce. What price was paid for the rights and dignity and freedom and hope and aspirations of ordinary Zimbabweans that your team looked the other way and endorsed yet another pathetically pantomimed African election?
Obasanjo, you are rapidly losing the opportunity to go down in history as an African statesman remembered for having the integrity to say: “Enough! As Africans we can do better and we will do better in respecting the rights and dignity and voice of our people!” It is your choice.The time is now: do not let Zanu-PF make a mockery of the independence for which Zimbabweans fought and died. – “Robbed by Robert”, Zimbabwe
The media have been replete with stories of President Robert Mugabe’s rigging of Zimbabwe’s elections last week. They have even personalised the story, not referring to Zanu-PF, but “Mugabe” this, “Mugabe” that. Not even “President” or “Mr” Mugabe. They did the same with former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
A study of opposition parties in Africa shows that there are many instances in which they have boycotted elections, even when the elections were declared “free and fair”, just to discredit the incumbents. They do this when they realise that their chance of winning is very small. Could this be the strategy the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the United States and Britain employed ahead of these elections to discredit Zanu-PF?
The West always judges the Zimbabwean election results negatively. The ANC rigged the 1994 elections in South Africa, but the West said nothing because it knew that, under the ANC, its interests were safeguarded.
Are the Zimbabwe elections going to be regarded as free and fair only when Morgan Tsvingirai’s MDC has won? – Sam Ditshego, Pan Africanist Research Institute
Neutral but engaged media is welcome
It has been a long time since I have had occasion to compliment the Mail & Guardian. In fact, I had stopped either reading or writing to the paper in protest over its egregiously one-sided treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Whether the scrupulously factual and neutral tone adopted by Paul Lewis and Harriet Sherwood (“Secret steps to Middle East peace“, August 2) is or will become the norm remains to be seen but perhaps it heralds a more honest approach to a conflict with serious implications for world Jewry and with wide regional and global ramifications.
As one who started with a powerful commitment to a just two-state solution, only to see my hopes incrementally whittled down by a radicalised Palestinian politics, the Islamist movement within Arab-Muslim communities and a virulently anti-Israeli project by elements of the Western left, I, along with many others, had reached a point where it seemed that only the exercise of resolute and uncompromising power by Israel held any hope for her survival.
Does this “peace initiative” change anything on the ground? From Israel’s point of view, it is fraught with danger. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, as pointed out by Lewis and Sherwood, publicly said no Israeli will be allowed in the new Palestinian state. Does that refer to citizenship, residency or even commercial, sporting or cultural interchange?
The refusal of Palestinian leaders to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, the ongoing incitement in Palestinian schools and elsewhere and the fact that the Facebook page of one of the Palestinian negotiators, Mohammad Shtayyeh, shows a map with Israel replaced by Palestine, means that even Israelis of liberal disposition view the negotiations with concern. Add this to the release of prisoners responsible for numerous, deliberate Israeli civilian deaths, the general reluctance of the Western media to hold Palestinians, especially, accountable for their actions and the violent instability of the Middle East and large parts of North Africa and the level of foreboding increases exponentially.
Our worst fears can be summarised in two alternatives:
- The talks fail after Israel has made considerable concessions following immense American and European pressure to concede vital security concerns, leaving Israel vilified by Western liberals and facing an empowered and combatitive Palestinian entity.
- A “peace agreement” is signed, leaving Israel seriously weakened as a result of territorial, diplomatic and security concessions, only to be broken in a few years’ time.
Under such circumstances, most of the broad pro-Zionist camp would finally ditch our “liberal” inhibitions and expect Israel to use its military and economic power solely in its own interests. If that happens, global instability will rise sharply, with unpredictable consequences.
If only for that reason, I hope that the Western media will, for once, hold all parties equally responsible for their actions and bring even-handed scrutiny and pressure to bear on both sides. – Mike Berger