Worldwide Elections 2008 #4 - Zimbabwe

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by dong20, Mar 27, 2008.

  1. dong20

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    This Saturday March 29th will see the Zimbabwean Parliamentary and Presidential elections. Parliament was dissolved in January.

    I use the word election in the loosest sense here. Zimbabwe has refused to allow observers from Britain, the EU, the United States and Commonwealth team to monitor the elections. It is allowing observers from the ANC, Russia, China, Venezuela and Iran - all countries renowned for the integrity of their electoral processes. The ANC endorsed the 2002 elections as 'free and fair', of course it was.

    The list of actions undertaken by PF this year (and previously) to rig this election is long and unsurprising. I doubt anyone should be in any doubt about the credibility of this election.

    The activities of bookworm over recent years should be well enough known to anyone not living in a sealed cave not to merit detailed explanation. It's perhaps indicative of expectations that a week or so back he announced that any demonstrations that may occur in the event of an opposition defeat would be 'crushed'. As if he needed an excuse.

    Word is this will be his 'toughest' electoral challenge to date, well that's been said before. Tough perhaps being the operative word though. I'm not entirely convinced he wants to remain in office, I wonder if it's not the ghosts of Matabeleland and fear of the ICC (who must be visiting him nightly) that's driving him more these days. Dying in office would seem his best option.

    Who's standing:

    Langton Towungana is standing as an independent. Little is known about him, and he's standing on a pseudo God Fearing platform of 'transparency and accountability'. He's going nowhere.

    Simba Makoni is also standing as an independent. As a long term former Mugabe minister (with a spell in the Private sector) and until recently still a member of the PF politburo. Makoni had expressed a desire to run as PF candidate, I don't rate his chances.

    MDC leader, former union boss Morgan Tsvangirai is, sadly these days something of a spent force. This state most recently aggravated after prolonged abuse at the hands (and clubs, belts etc.) of Mugabe's security forces following his arrest back in March 2007. Incidents that eventually apparently lead to the death of his long term bodyguard. The MDC is far from a unified organisation.

    Acquitted of treason and having previously threatened to remove Mugabe 'by force' if he didn't step down in 2002 it's perhaps questionable how much support he's really capable of mustering. It's a sad indictment, although less of a surprise how little support he's received from neighbouring nations, especially since his most recent arrest.

    It's relatively easy to see what's really going on from here, at least in a big picture sense. On the ground, especially in rural provinces, simple ignorance and land reform benefits renders the situation more 'fuzzy' when people are asked to assign true responsibility for their woes. However, this year the rural vote appears more fickle. Besides, even when people understand, many will not speak openly for fear of retribution. I've heard (vote for the wrong party and ...) death threats first hand so I can't really criticise them for that.

    Sadly, despite most Zimbabweans being desperate for change, and the rural vote perhaps about to turn against Mugabe, I don't see a real likelihood of the outcome of this 'election' being anything other than expected, and the repercussions probably ugly either way. Still, we may yet see an unlikely surprise.

    Maybe I'm being pessimistic, but I have some friends in Zim and from what they tell me, I'm increasingly concerned about them.
     
  2. ManlyBanisters

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    Can't find a story to link to just yet - I'm watching on BBC news 24 at the moment - Mugabe is pre-emptively warning people not to protest if (does he mean when?) the opposition lose the election to him.

    This seems like the final cherry on the 'I'm cheating' cake. And I'm hearing now that despite there being 5.9m registered voters 9m ballot papers have been printed. Gee, what do you think they are going to do with all the those spares?? :rolleyes:

    I hate saying this about anyone - I hope Mugabe dies soon, all hell will break loose but maybe Zimbabwe will have the chance to rise from the ashes.
     
  3. TinyPrincess

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    Well, who couldn't need a few million spare ballots - perhaps Hillary would like some of the left overs ;-)

    I'm afraid Mugabe will stay on destroying the country and people until he dies or his ANC friends in South Africa finally wakes up and get rid of him.
     
  4. dong20

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    I read something similar a few days or so back which I mentioned. BBC news published this yesterday.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7316727.stm


    The level of fraud is really quite audacious. Usually the Urban vote is pro MDC the rural vote pro PF (or at least not pro MDC). This year even the rural population is feeling rebellious. Many of the people on the voting register don't exist, and many eligble voters are missing from it.


    I do too. I'm not entirely convinced all hell would break loose, though it's certainly very possible. As for rising from the ashes; to me, there are some loose parallels with Iraq in this regard.

    Like Iraq, years of increasingly brutal repression have left a nation of people without a voice, communities have become polarised and there is great resentment over past atrocities. If this gag is removed, they will speak, a key question is will it be with words, or bullets?

    Ironically, again rather like Saddam in Iraq, Mugabe's removal would be akin to taking the lid off a pressure cooker, everything may simply boil over. It will cause a power vacuum, one which may provide a brief window of opportunity to rebuild and unlike Iraq not merely implode. Sadly, Africa being Africa, history indicates what what we may expect.

    A key difference between Zimbabwe (again rather like Iraq under Saddam) and many other countries in the region acting in it's favour is infrastructure; - road, rail, water, power etc as well as factories, the health and education services and much of the underlying business and tourism framework both existed and were of high quality. Also, the Zimbabwean workforce is among the best in the region, perhaps the best.

    Mugabe hasn't actively dismantles these; much of Zimbabwe's essential infrastructure remains by and large, basically intact. It's certainly decaying, neglected, under funded and much of is not functioning well (or at all) because of years of gross mismanagement. But it doesn't need to be built, literally from the ground up.

    Of course the longer this situation continues the longer and harder the recovery. But it's a major advantage that other nations didn't invest in, and most still don't have; DRC, Mozambique, Zambia etc. A colonial legacy perhaps, but one that should work in Zimbabwe's favour.

    Of course, a tipping point will be reached (if not already) where things deterioate to a point that would make recovery a level of magnitude more difficult that it would have been, even (say) five years ago. Certainly, things appear far worse now that the last time I was there which was well over a year back.

    I'd still argue that Zimbabwe is in a better position than most nations in the region to make a quick recovery because the basic national framework exists. It will need significant funding of course, but with Mugabe gone, I imagine that would be forthcoming.

    The bigger long term concern is perhaps that of Mugabe's legacy, he has so damaged the economic and social hierarchy, that even with him out of the equation personally, much of his legacy may take years, perhaps decades to undo. To a great many Zimbaweans, as well as other Africans (and their leaders), Mugabe remains a hero. In Africa, that's a sentiment that doesn't fade overnight.

    However, with the right political leadership, properly targeted foreign investment and little luck, I believe it's entirely possible that Zimbabwe could be back on its feet in an economic sense within 5 years, perhaps sooner. I'm no expert on this and my view is based on what I read, and what people who know far more than I about this, tell me.

    Mugabe primarily blames the west for his countries woes. If he 'wins' this election and continues the way he has, Zimbabwe may 'effectively' cease to exist.
     
  5. ManlyBanisters

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    No you didn't!! :wink:

    :rolleyes::redface:

    I admit to not re-reading your post when I bumped it this morning - I did read it yesterday - I guess that bit didn't register, sorry, and cheers for the link.
     
  6. dong20

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    You're forgiven. I've been trying to call a friend in Harare to see how things are, no joy.

    I know no one is that interested in anything that isn't the US election. The US election is important but it's hardly life and death in the way this election really could be.

    In the two or so years I've been a member at LPSG when it comes to political mudslinging it's been primarily Bush (and some liberal) bashing. Now there's an election that may finally oust the republican party, all I see is in effect, democrats bashing each other over their candidate of choice. I wonder if I'm the only one finding the myriad Obama v Clinton bunfights (and that's pretty much what they have turned into) somewhat ironic?
     
  7. kalipygian

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    I have stopped reading all the Hillary versus Obama threads, too much of members disparaging one another, and doing the same things themselves. The candidates are both more than acceptable.

    Doesn't seem like there is much chance of the people of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia being rid of the incumbent. (though their oppressor has just one head, unlike some other places.)
     
  8. dong20

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    Not through the ballot box anyway, no.
     
  9. simcha

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    Hey, it worked for the Shrub in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004. I mean, Hillary was a Young Republican after all. Why not steal the Shub's playbook? She voted for his war.
     
  10. Drifterwood

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    Humans seem to thrive on competition. So I find your points about the lack of credible opposition/competition in the political arena very interesting Dong.

    If it could be possible, I think that things will get worse before they get better. Wow what a thought.

    Can you explain why he gets support from the ANC and others? It seems irrational to me, irrespective of political and cultural paradigms.
     
  11. ManlyBanisters

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    Wow - that's a blast from the past! What brought that on? I don't believe Rhodesia has been even partly the name of that country since 1979. And those I have heard use have done so with an agenda...

    You are not alone there. The level to which it has sunk is ridiculous... both here and generally in the campaigns.

    I can't explain that at all and find it most odd.

    If things do got worse before they get better then God help them all - it's situations like this that underline the lie both Britain and the US made about part of the Iraq invasion been about human rights (particularly, though other coalition countries too). What utter bollocks, that they can use that as a justification and yet let other human rights abuses go pretty much unchallenged for so long.
     
  12. dong20

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    They're not credible in the sense that sometimes mere 'political opposition' isn't enough.

    Things could indeed get a lot worse.

    Political expediency or actual support ... ? Well, political expediency would be the more convenient to accept, but ...

    It's been argued (by White Cape Town Journalist, Andrew Kenny) that a 'curse' of black Africans not just those in Africa is a form of 'obsession' with the white man. That many (by no means all) black Africans seek to distil human existence down to a simple morality, one in which the white man is the source of all their evil deeds and misfortune.

    I'm not convinced that's entirely accurate but when atrocities occur in other African countries, many blacks don't appear to care too much, unless that is, one of the protagonists - assailant or victim includes groups of whites (or often, Asians). Even today, brutality especially in the name of anti-imperialism can still be a ticket to success in securing the support of African
    radicals.

    Most black Zimbabweans I've spoken to accuse the ANC of betrayal. The ANC sought international support in their fight to overthrow white rule, yet today, when black Zimbabweans ask for ANC support in ousting their own oppressor, it does nothing. This isn't a solely black view of course, and it's one I share.

    Mugabe and Mbeki were schooled in the same political ideology, I believe he also has the same desire for 'whites out' policy for South Africa.
    ANC advocate and former anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman said in 2004: “Mbeki and other black African leaders support Mugabe’s actions in effectively kicking the white man out of Zimbabwe”.

    I can understand the sentiment, but perhaps it goes deeper than that, I believe they both have an interest in keeping 'certain events' free from undue scrutiny. Certainly Mugabe does. I'm not accusing the ANC of direct involvement in the Matabeleland atrocities, but the ANC had a presence in Zimbabwe at the time, and despite a generally stated stance of non violence, they said nothing. Zimbabwe provided training and weapons for the ANC, something Mugabe reminds Mbeki of once in a while, lest he forget how he helped in the ANC's 'hour of need'.


    A report on the events in Matabeleland was prepared, yet was (by 1999 when Mugabe was taken to court to get it published), apparently 'lost'. Mbeki's statements about the 2005 famine being due to drought (it wasn't, the reasons were almost entirely the result of Mugabe's land grab) were transparent support for Mugabe, his desire for 'quiet diplomacy' regarding the 'forced land grab' were IMHO, little more than a euphemism for - 'keep up the good work,
    Bob. I've got your back'.

    It's interesting that Mbeki's 2006 plans for South contain legislation to ignore 'willing seller, willing buyer' (a similar 10 year provision was written into the Zimbabwean constitution at independence) and effectively allow the Government to simply expropriate white farms should its 'valuation' be refused. Concerns have been expressed that the ANC is interfering in the judicial process, seeking in effect to rule by decree.


    There is concern that Mbeki is by 'stealth' again seeking to drive whites out of South, a strategy shared by Mugabe. The ANC once referred to Mugabe's regime as 'African style democracy', it praised Mugabe in 2004 - describing Zanu-PF as 'a party of revolution'. Look at the alleged 'hidden' agenda of the BEE.


    The ANC declared the last Zimbabwean elections as 'free and fair'. They were manifestly neither. Mbeki would have us believe he really wanted democracy in Zimbabwe, but that Mugabe (in condemning the West), in concert with the UK and the IMF have painted him into a corner ... tricked him, I smell BS. This would require Mbeki be an idiot, he's not (not in that sense anyway).

    Sometimes silence is just as eloquent, it's not necessary to provide open support for Mugabe. On radio call ins in SA, white callers almost universally condemn Mugabe, yet black callers generally support him. This goes back to my earlier paragraph, and an earlier post, many do still see him as a 'hero' figure. Many do so even when they know the truth.

    Today, politically the ANC is all but unassailable, it can say and do pretty much as it chooses and increasingly it's doing just that. Should people object, well the ANC has a documented history of using terror tactics against its black opposition. By supporting Mugabe, is this a subtle way of saying; 'toe the line or this is what may happen here'. Put together all this augers ill for longer term human rights in SA.

    There has been and still is great injustice in South, and in Zimbabwe and I'm not ignorant of the fact that many of the actions perpetrated by Mugabe (and the ANC) had justification. However, things have gone way too far, and replacing one form of malfeasance with another isn't justice, poetic or otherwise.

    I have never trusted Mbeki, and I certainly no longer trust the ANC. Mandela, who arguably (in substantive terms), did little better himself at least called Mugabe what he is - a tyrant. I think he did the right thing in getting out early. ANC president and presumptive next president of SA Jacob Zuma
    prophesied - the ANC would rule South Africa at least until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Well, he may be a thug, but at least he's a thug in thug's clothing.

    African politics is a fascinating (to me anyway) and often complex phenomenon, one with many more strands than I have touched on here. It's one better suited to a long and heated discussion over beers and a braai, with the input of those who know far more about this than I. I've spent numerous evenings in this fashion and each time I learn a little more. Perhaps, by the time I'm 100, I may begin to really understand, or maybe not.
    In short, political expediency is a factor, certainly. But most of my money would be on simple support.

     
  13. dong20

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    Indeed.

    Zimbabwe is what was Southern Rhodesia, Zambia the former Northern Rhodesia. Some white Zimbabweans still think fondly of those days.

    Sadly, I'm sure it can sink lower.

    BBC NEWS | World | Africa | Zimbabwe forces 'on full alert'

    I've made a cack-handed attempt above. Essentially it's one man's despot ... but it's also more than that.

    I can understand, (in part) Britain's reluctance to mouth off too loudly about a situation that is in part of its own making, but in terms of Zimbabwe, while it's wrong that the wider international community wrings it's hands, it's entirely unsurprising.
     
  14. Drifterwood

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    Wow - thanks D.

    I think, like many Brits, I still see Mandela as the face and soul of the ANC. This is naive wishful thinking though.

    These guys really do follow the Hitler model. Create a hate figure, destroy/intimidate the middle class, exploit the proletariat. A lust for power at its most ugly.

    No wonder things get violent - the stakes of being in or out of power are very high. Too high.
     
  15. dong20

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    Apparently the US embassy has 'deployed' some if its staff as unofficial election observers. I'm not sure what such a small number as that would achieve.

    Voting so far has been relatively peaceful with less of the outright intimidation of previous elections. I wonder if this is because Mugabe simply feels no need to take such steps, knowing that people really have had enough this time - so much that they will vote him out and thus he's expecting a defeat and will simply choose to ignore it.

    From an interesting article:

    "Chihuri, and the armed forces commander, General Constantine Chiwenga, have said they would not recognise victory by a "puppet" of Britain."

    Those comments echo ones made back in 2002 by the then armed forces commander
    General Vitalis Zvinavashe - that the military would only obey a political leader who participated in the 1970s war of independence.

    It's war, Mugabe says, as opposition prepares for battle


    Mugabe's position depends on the loyalty of his security forces, this loyalty being paid for by food, jobs, land allocations and other bribes.
    I didn't (and don't) rate Makoni's chances for outright victory but perhaps I underestimated the role he may play if he achieves a significant amount of the vote.

    I read a while back that Makoni had sought (and had) the support of some army officers - the so called 'boys on leave' and at least one senior military figure. Based on family ties I'd assumed that meant Solomon Mujuru (who's wife Joice is Mugabe's VP!), Mujuru is alleged to be Makoni's Godfather.

    I didn't know how credible that was but it seemed plausible. It also seemed to fit the Makoni game plan of seeking to destabilise and split the PF hierarchy. Dabengwa was already out in supporting Makoni.
    Mujuru remained silent on the issue until a fortnight back when he denied supporting Makoni. This seemed to kill that idea, however this denial didn't come from Mujuru personally but from comments he made 'during a meeting with Mugabe' - or was his VP selling him a dummy?

    The problem with all this was that Zvinavashe was supposed to defect ahead of Mujuru but had already denied supporting Makoni. Zvinavashe's support seemed odd given his alignment with Emmerson Mnangagwa (Mugabe's once favoured successor). But that was before Mugabe outmanoeuvred them both a couple of years back.

    Of course, i
    f Mujuru had offered open support before the elections he would effectively end his wife's career should Makoni do badly - this 'disavowal' may have been a shrewd tactical move - or simply a sign of desperation by Mugabe. Or, it could be that these two simply didn't have the bottle to see the plan through, hanging Makoni (and Dabengwa) out to dry. Ah, the intrigue!

    Regardless of the actual result, if the army does 'tell' Mugabe to go he will have no choice. We'll find out soon enough.

     
  16. dong20

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    I think Mandela is a decent man forced by circumstance to do indecent things. He had numerous run ins with the ANC over differences in policy. It was Mandela who advocated a campaign of violence back in 1961. I believe he was right to do so, despite how ineffective it was at the time.

    However the terrorist tactics undertaken by the ANC in later years, the necklass killings especially, coupled with Mbeki's misguided attempts to subvert the TRC (De Klerk too) and the ANC's dogged self exoneration caused any real credibility the ANC had to evaporate. In my eyes at least.

    The two sane voices during this were Mandela, and Desmond Tutu. Mandela was never a politician, I think he was right to get out when he did, it may have been his stated view of being 'too old' but I'm sure he could see what was coming. In doing so he retained his integrity. He's a smart man.
     
  17. dong20

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    Voting ends in Zimbabwe election - Yahoo! News UK

    Biti (for Tsvangirai):
    "There is absolutely no doubt we have won this election"

    Mugabe (for himself):
    "We will succeed. We will conquer"

    Adding : "Why should I cheat? The people are there supporting us. The moment the people stop supporting you, then that's the moment you should quit politics ..."

    Hmm ...
     
  18. dong20

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    It seems the MDC have decided to claim 'victory' already. They may well be right but it's a premature move, one which may cause people to celebrate, exposing them to risk.

    As expected there have been allegations of fraud. Regardless of his promise to do so, if Mugabe does lose outright despite his best efforts at fraud, I imagine he would be forced to step down, possibly at gunpoint. It will be interesting indeed if a run off is called. If that were to happen, the opposition would likely form a coalition to oust Mugabe.

    Zimbabwe's opposition claims win on early results | World | Reuters
     
  19. dong20

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    The ongoing delay in releasing more 'official' results by the ZEC is surely indicative of only one thing. Results for six constituencies have been released showing an even split between Mugabe and the MDC.

    The question is, will Mugabe try to 'fix' it (probably too big a job to be in any way convincing), or simply ignore it. Is he trying to engineer a 'run off' allowing him time to 'regroup'? Will the delay provoke the MDC into making a full, unilateral declaration of victory? - giving him an excuse to deal with it as a de facto Coup D'etat in the hope this would allow him to sidestep the issue. It's hard to see this ending well.

    The jig is up, it's time to step down, now, while he still can.

    Mugabe defiant in face of electoral losses | World news | guardian.co.uk
     
  20. vince

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    This probably why they ordered 3 million more ballots than there are registered voters.
     
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