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Shifting Western Positions On Mugabe Election!

Shifting Western Positions On Mugabe Election!

Published: 30 August 2013

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has been sworn-in, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) have unanimously endorsed his new five-year term.

President Mugabe has used the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly meeting in Victoria Falls to further reinforce his legitimacy — as President of Zimbabwe.

What does this all mean for the Western countries? Where do they stand and has President Mugabe walked away with a victory past them?

The Western countries’ response to President Mugabe’s re-election can be considered in three categories.

The first is of those countries that have clearly rejected the outcome of this election and are insisting on a re-run of the elections — something more of a wish with less chances of seeing the light of day.

Australia finds itself in this audacious category. The Australians have indicated they will maintain the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe until and unless there is a re-run of the elections.

The second group is of countries that have come out strongly and want to maintain sanctions on the country as they are also not convinced that the elections were “free and fair”.

This second group, unlike the Australians, has however, not asked that there be a re-run of the elections. They have simply proffered to keep the sanctions regime but without any clarity on how they propose the election question be addressed.

The United States is in this apathetic group. In fact, the US position is self-conflicting. Their latest statement says that they will maintain the sanctions because they do not perceive the elections to have reflected the wish of the Zimbabwe people.

In short, they are saying President Mugabe’s election is illegitimate. However, within the same statement, they go on to say that sanctions will be maintained and there is a possibility that they may be reviewed depending on how President Mugabe’s new administration behaves.

So, on one hand they are de-legitimising President Mugabe’s election but on the other hand they are going to evaluate his government’s approach in order to consider the lifting of sanctions.

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