Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to Continue With June 27 Poll Despite Withdrawal by Western-backed Opposition Party

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to Continue With June 27 Poll Despite Announced Withdrawal by Western-backed Opposition

ZANU-PF denies allegations of human rights violations and violent retribution against opponents

by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire

Reports emanating from western press agencies and Zimbabwe opposition forces claim that acts of violence and political repression has lead to the withdrawal of the Movement for Democratic Change Tsvangirai (MDC-T) from the June 27 run-off elections. As a result of these accusations, which include acts of arson and murder, there have been fresh calls for intensifying the existing economic sanctions against this Southern African nation. On June 23 it was also reported that the leader of the MDC-T, Morgan Tsvangirai had taken temporary "refuge" in the Dutch embassy in Zimbabwe.

Nonetheless, the President of Zimbabwe and leader of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriot Front Party (ZANU-PF), Robert Mugabe, has denied that the state and its security apparatus as well as its organizational cadre, have engaged in acts of retribution against the western-backed opposition MDC-T.

In an article published in the state newspaper The Herald on Tuesday, June 24, the president was reported to have accused the western imperialist nations of further attempts to overthrow the ruling party. The front page article says that the veteran leader was "[A]ddressing more than 15,000 people at Gaza Stadium in Chipinge yesterday, when he said: 'Britain and her allies are telling a lot of lies about Zimbabwe, saying a lot of people are dying. These are all lies because they want to build a situation to justify their intervention in Zimbabwe.'"

According to the Herald, the President "urged Zimbabweans to safeguard the country’s sovereignty by voting for him in Friday’s presidential run-off since MDC-T was a creation of the West." This same article continues by saying the president while "[A]ddressing thousands of Zanu-PF supporters at Masvosva Business Centre in Makoni West later during the day, Cde Mugabe said people should ensure an emphatic victory for the ruling party in memory of those who perished during the liberation struggle.

"He said many sons and daughters from Manicaland died during the struggle and people in the province should not allow the country to be recolonised."

Moreover, despite the widely reported claims in the media that the opposition's candidate was not going to participate in the June 27 poll, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commision (ZEC) had not officially received a letter of withdrawal from Morgan Tsvangirai as of June 24.

In another ariticle published in the Zimbabwe Herald on June 24, it states that: "Two days after announcing his intention to withdraw from the June 27 presidential run-off, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai is yet to write to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to make his position official.

"ZEC yesterday said it was ready for Friday’s presidential run-off and the three House of Assembly by-elections with deployment of polling officers having started while election material is being moved to the districts.

"ZEC chairman Justice George Chiweshe yesterday said he had not received any communication from Tsvangirai."

However, it was announced over the BBC on June 24 that the MDC-T had submitted a letter officially withdrawing from the run-off elections scheduled for June 27.

United Nations Security Council Issues Statement

On June 23 the United Nations Security Council issued a statement in response to the political situation in Zimbabwe after five hours of debate. The statement read in part that the atmosphere inside the country "made it impossible for a free and fair election to take place." The statement was passed with a unanimous vote.

However, an alternative statement which called for the placing of the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in power by recognizing him as the de facto leader of the country, was rejected. This statement was drafted by the United States, Britain and France and would have provided a political weapon to justify further support for the western-backed MDC-T in its quest for regime change in Zimbabwe.

The current strategy of the western nations is to work towards the total denial of international legitimacy and recognition of the ZANU-PF government in Zimbabwe. The passage of this United Nations resolution represents the first time that the internal affairs of Zimbabwe has come before the Security Council where China, South Africa and Russia voted to criticize the Southern African nation.

UN Resolution Represents a Culmination of Western Efforts

The government of Zimbabwe has been under tremendous pressure since the year 2000 in the aftermath of the seizure of farm land controlled by the white settlers. The white farmers controlled most of the arable land as a by-product of the continued legacy of British colonialism which ruled the country between the 1890s until the time of national independence in 1980.

The formal independence of Zimbabwe was won through a protracted armed struggle that lasted between the mid-1960s until the convening of the Lancaster House Summit held in late 1979. The Lancaster House Agreement created the conditions for the transition of state power from the settler-colonialists regime of Ian Smith to the liberation movements of ZANU-PF and the now dissolved Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU-PF) which eventually merged with ZANU-PF in 1987.

Sanctions carried out against Zimbabwe by the British, American and EU states coupled with an internationally coordinated campaign of slander and villification of the ruling party and the government, has isolated the country and severely crippled its economy. Zimbabwe has become more dependent on food aid and has not been able to acquire significant credit from internaional financial institutions.

The country has not collapsed because of the political and economic support given to it by China and South Africa. The western nations have pressured the Republic of South Africa to refuse to allow goods to be transported to Zimbabwe through its territory and to also cut off power supplies emanating from South Africa into Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country with no direct access to the Indian Ocean. Mozambique to the east also has served as a route for goods coming into Zimbabwe. During the 1980s and early 1990s, when the apartheid-backed Movement of National Resistance (MNR) in Mozambique was terrorizing the country, Zimbabwe deployed 10,000 of its own troops to guard the Beira Corridor from attacks by the armed opposition. This act of solidarity prevented the further weakening of the economies of both Mozambique and Zimbabwe during this period.

The effectiveness of any tightening of existing sanctions against Zimbabwe will depend upon the response of both the governments of South Africa and Mozambique. The ZANU-PF ruling party has stated on several occasions during the recent run-off elections campaign that it will not turn over power to the western-backed MDC-T. Certainly the United Nations Security Council's actions will embolden the western imperialist nations and its allies inside of Zimbabwe.

However, the ultimate political outcome of this crisis surrounding Zimbabwe will depend upon the course taken by the governments within the South African Development Community (SADC), particularly Mozambique and South Africa, along with the alignment of forces within Zimbabwe itself. It is obvious that the ruling ZANU-PF still maintains substantial support inside the country. How the ruling party responds to the escalation of international pressure will set the stage for the next phase of the struggle to ensure the continued independence and sovereignty of the nation of Zimbabwe.
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire. PANW articles have appeared in publications and websites throughout the international community.

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