Africa and West at odds over disputed Zimbabwe election


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>HARARE (Reuters) – South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma on Sunday congratulated Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe on his re-election, in sharp contrast to Western governments which questioned the credibility of a rushed, disputed vote.

African monitors broadly approved the conduct of the election but Mugabe’s main rival, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, has said he will challenge the results in court with evidence of massive vote-rigging, irregularities and intimidation.

The sharply divergent views of Wednesday’s vote surfaced after Zimbabwe’s election officials declared a landslide win for Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party, giving Africa’s oldest president five more years at the helm of a nation he has ruled for 33.

The standoff raises some fears the southern African nation risks repeating the turmoil that followed another contested vote in 2008. Election violence then forced Zimbabwe’s neighbors to broker a shaky unity government between ZANU-PF and the MDC.

But Sunday’s “profound congratulations” extended to Mugabe by Zuma, leader of Africa’s economic powerhouse, reflected a willingness by the continent’s diplomatic bodies to swallow the re-election of Mugabe, 89, for the sake of regional stability.

Mugabe, one of the grand old men of southern Africa’s liberation fight that ended white minority rule, is admired as a defiant nationalist by some Africans, though others share the West’s view of him as a ruthless despot who wrecked Zimbabwe.

“President Zuma urges all political parties in Zimbabwe to accept the outcome of the elections, as election observers reported it to be an expression of the will of the people,” the South African leader said in his statement.

Zimbabwe’s capital Harare was calm on Sunday, with many residents going to church. Newspaper billboards proclaimed “ZANU-PF gloats over victory”, “Mugabe romps to victory” and “Tsvangirai disputes election results”.

Western observers were barred from Wednesday’s elections.

Monitors from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who observed them made a point of stressing that they were peaceful, in contrast to the violence of 2008 polls, and also endorsed them as broadly free.

In contrast, the United States and European governments, which have sanctions in place against Mugabe over past election-rigging, listed a litany of alleged flaws in the vote, from lack of availability of the voters’ roll to pro-Mugabe bias in the media and security services that skewed the election run-up.

In Zimbabwe, independent domestic monitors had described the election as “seriously compromised” by registration problems that may have disenfranchised up to a million people.

Anti-corruption watchdog Global Witness, citing links between mining companies, ZANU-PF insiders and Zimbabwe’s pro-Mugabe military, has also alleged that state diamond revenues may have been spent on securing the Mugabe re-election.

ZANU-PF has angrily rejected all vote-rigging allegations.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spelled out Washington’s distrust of the result in no uncertain terms.

“Make no mistake: in light of substantial electoral irregularities reported by domestic and regional observers, the United States does not believe that the results announced … represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people,” he said in a strongly worded statement on Saturday.

Former colonial power Britain expressed “grave concerns”. Foreign Secretary William Hague said the reported irregularities “call into serious question the credibility of the election”.

The 28-nation European Union has also pointed to “identified weaknesses in the electoral process and a lack of transparency,” completing a picture of general Western skepticism.


It remained to be seen how energetically the West, with little public appetite at home for overseas interventions and facing muscular Chinese trade and investment rivalry in Africa, would press its questioning against the apparent African endorsement of the vote as imperfect but acceptable.

China is already a significant investor in Zimbabwe, which has rich reserves of chromium, platinum, coal and diamonds.

Mugabe had defiantly ignored a request by SADC in June to delay the election beyond July 31 to allow more time for steps to create a “conducive environment” for a free and fair vote.

At issue now will be the future of the Western sanctions against Mugabe and Zimbabwe, where the economy is still struggling to recover from a decade of slump and hyperinflation that ended in 2009 when the Zimbabwe dollar was scrapped.

Trevor Maisiri, senior analyst for southern Africa of the International Crisis Group, said the priority of the African Union and its regional satellites like SADC was avoiding conflict and civil strife. This often took preference over technical perfection in electoral processes.

“I don’t think there is going to be any major social unrest. Some people are disappointed but they have already gone back to their lives,” he told Reuters by telephone in Harare.

The MDC, facing political annihilation after its third failure to oust Mugabe through the ballot box, has said it could consider challenging Mugabe’s win through street protests.

But this could trigger a crackdown from pro-Mugabe security services, militias and supporters. In the 2008 electoral violence, 200 MDC followers were killed in such a crackdown.

In Harare, after the tense, rushed weeks of electioneering, many seemed anxious to get on with their daily lives.

“The elections have come and gone, and people have different opinions about the outcome but we still need to pray for our welfare, for national peace,” said one woman as she went into a service at the main Anglican Cathedral in the city.

“Politics is important, but it’s not everything,” she added, declining to give her name.

(Additional reporting by Xola Potelwa in Johannesburg; Writing by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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    The Zimbabwe elections at a glance; Why did MDC T lose the elections?.
    It is not a reasonable and best option to take to the streets. We have seen what that course of action yields. Egypt is a good epitome of this and other countries that followed suit. We do not want people to die for nothing(sanctity of life). That is a stupid and perilous advice to the nation. The only option is to take the issue to court if any party is not content with the outcome of the elections .Now you tell me what is going to happen to the people if there is mayhem in Zimbabwe? I think the person who is for this idea should start himself or herself. We do not want anyone to die for nothing. It is important that people value life. If you incite people to engage in such dangerous activities, then the person inciting them should be able to face the law if anyone dies. Every life is important9sanctity of life). It is foreseeable to any man with a sound mind that such action would yield nothing but only death, destruction of property(criminal damage) and other heinous crimes. So, should a peaceful people of Zimbabwe engage in such a course of action?. Let us be reasonable. This is like putting suicide bombs on children of others to go and die yet you leave yours to live. A very cynical idea indeed.
    Why did MDC T lose the elections?.(contributory negligence)
    When MDC was formed or launched, there was harmony and solidarity in their political party. Then they started to fight each other.MDC became polarised. By doing this they betrayed the trust of their followers. Those were the first signs that indicated that its leadership had failed to live up to its expectations and promises that it made to its followers. What happened next? MDC lost a lot of its supporters. What happened next? They lost the elections to ZANU PF. What happened next? They blamed ZANU PF for rigging the elections. What happened next? There were further divisions in the MDC Party .Their party was dichotomised .Thus we have MDC T and MDC N. What happened next? Their party lost a lot of supporters. What happened next? ZAPU PF and other political parties were formed .What happened due to this ?MDC T and MDC N had to share their supporters with these new political parties. A lot of people that used to identify or were politically affiliated to the old ZAPU PF of father Zimbabwe which merged with ZANU PF to form a Unity Party ,reverted to CDE Dumiso Dabengwa’s ZAPU PF PARTY. What happened next? The people of Zimbabwe were/are confused as to which political party to follow. What happened next? They joined ZANU PF. In particular the rural folk. Most of the urbanities chose to join any of the ZANU PF opposition parties. Others reverted to ZANU PF. What happened then ? ZANU PF gained a political mileage. What was the other causes for ZANU PF to gain strength? It is because of the land issue. A lot of people in the urban areas are ambivalent when it comes to the land issue. By dint of analogy , it appears that MDC T did not explain properly its intentions or policy of the land .That is giving a good answer as to what they were going to do .Again, the idea of reversing the indigenisation policy instituted by ZANU PF ,is one major factor that put a dent to MDC T and MDC N. So if you are a prudent person ,please ponder over the above facts .You will come to conclude that the allegations of vote rigging are nothing but malicious. You will come to conclude that, MDC is the author of its problems in this case. In fact any reasonable person should be blaming both MDC Parties for betraying them.(note that i am impartial in this).
    It is the right of every citizen of Zimbabwe to express their political ideas. Thus it would be more ideal to make a new beginning in MDC T .For example ,when the Labour Party in lost the elections in Britain ,to the Conservative ,they changed their leadership. In USA ,Obama was chosen as a candidate in order to win the elections against their opponents. If MDC is to win ,then it too must employ the same strategy. That is choose a new candidate .The then leaders are to relinquish their positions in the next elections. This does not mean i am undermining the ability of the then MDC T President. But the truth is that the man at the helm of each political party in any state matters most. We have seen what happened to the short lived government of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. We have also seen what happened and what is obtaining in various states in the world were similar political dilemmas exist. There is nothing new or wrong in bringing in new faces and new ideas .
    NB;I am very sorry if my opinion hurts anyone. I am impartial and apolitical. So do not misconstrue me as taking any side with any political party. This is reality.
    BY NJABULO [my opinion ,no favour]


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