Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: December 12 Movement Endorses Run-off; ZLJ Hails Election; Women March for President Mugabe

December 12 Movement endorses run-off

Herald Reporter

THE December 12 Movement, one of the foreign observer missions that witnessed the June 27 presidential run-off election, has endorsed the poll as an expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

The African-American organisation, based in New York in the United States, however, said the existence of sanctions and the disproportionate and biased reporting of what was taking place in Zimbabwe by a few media outlets with global outreach had skewed the playing field against Zanu-PF. Members of the mission yesterday said their findings so far indicated that the poll outcome was not only a free expression of the will of Zimbabweans, but that it set an example for the rest of Africa and the Africans in the Diaspora.

A member of the mission, Mr Omowale Clay, said: "We cannot observe the Zimbabwe electoral process in isolation from the external forces that were trying to influence the poll.

"Even then, Zimbabweans are a highly knowledgeable people. Their understanding of the issues affecting them is high and they went out and participated fully in the elections despite the difficult situation.

"There is nothing fair about sanctions and there is no way one can try and judge the freeness and fairness of the election without taking this into account.

"A lot of economic restrictions have been placed on Zimbabwe resulting in tremendous inflation and a shortage of goods.

"It is pleasing to note that against such a backdrop, Zimbabweans went to vote and this is a testimony of the history of democracy in Zimbabwe since 1980 when democracy was established through a liberation struggle."

He added that the level of professionalism and dedication shown by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission impressed the mission, which he said was in stark contrast to the manner in which elections in the US, particularly in Florida in 2000, were conducted.

Mr Clay said the December 12 Movement’s assessment of Morgan Tsvangirai’s decision to "pull out" of the election was similar to that of legal experts who said it was legally impossible to do so.

He also noted that a high number of people had turned out to vote on June 27 contrary to claims by some Western media outlets that there was widespread apathy.

"The case of Harare is significant. The city has always been an opposition centre of power and when we look at the number of people who turned out in the city to vote for President Mugabe, you begin to question some of the claims emanating from some media houses.

"If there was violence in Harare, we certainly would have seen it. There is no way the authorities could have covered it up. So why is it that if there was no mass violence, such as we saw in Kenya, large numbers went out and cast secret ballots in support of President Mugabe?"

Another member of the mission, Mr Vernon Verdree, said it was important for Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora to take a leaf from the manner in which Zimbabweans had chosen to defend their sovereignty and agitate for the nationalisation of key resources through the ballot.

"The outcome of this election is an example for everyone. It shows that we can come up with our own solutions to the problems facing us regardless of the pressures from outside forces.

"There was great clarity about what the electoral issues were and we were greatly impressed by the participation of the youth in campaigning and on voting day," Mr Verdree said.

Lawyers’ body hails run-off

Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Justice has described the June 27 presidential election run-off won by President Mugabe of Zanu-PF as having been peaceful and constitutional.

ZLJ national co-ordinator Advocate Martin Dinha yesterday released a preliminary observation report on the presidential election run-off.

"Preliminary reports from our observers who covered the entire country and the parliamentary by-elections noted that the elections were held in a peaceful and serene environment notwithstanding politically-inspired localised skirmishes and cases of arson and acts of vandalism in the pre-election period," he said.

Adv Dinha said the run-off was held in accordance with the laws of Zimbabwe despite the last-minute withdrawal by Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T.

"The people of Zimbabwe expressed their democratic rights and we note that each candidate got votes commensurate with the will of the people."

Adv Dinha said it should, however, be noted that the run-off election was held in an atmosphere of extreme hostility by Western powers who used a concerted, malicious and demonic international media campaign.

"Lies on the situation in Zimbabwe were peddled on CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera, Sky News, SABC and e-tv to drum up support for further imposition of illegal sanctions and military intervention," Adv Dinha said.

He said ZLJ condemns any attempts on sanctions as this was unnecessary and a recipe for chaos and insurrection.

He urged Zimbabweans to remain peaceful and work with the new Government of Cde Mugabe in fighting illegal economic sanctions to bring back food on the table and goods in the shops.

Adv Dinha applauded the sterling job done by the Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono in turning around the economy under an avalanche of sanctions.

He also urged opposition parties in Zimbabwe to reciprocate Cde Mugabe’s goodwill on a negotiated political settlement.

"ZLJ supports the President’s call and is prepared to assist in any nation-building process that is home-brewed. ZLJ does not doubt the legitimacy and or the constitutionality of the new Government of Cde Mugabe as it emerged from a proper and legal electoral process," he said.

Adv Dinha urged Cde Mugabe to form a Govern-ment consisting of people with national interests at heart.

"Certainly people are tired of inefficient, corrupt and non-performing ministers who have cost the country and ruling party a lot," he said.

Masvingo Zanu-PF women march for President

Masvingo Bureau

HUNDREDS of placard-waving Zanu-PF Women’s League members, clad in full party regalia, marched through the streets of Masvingo on Monday, reaffirming their support for President Mugabe, who won last Friday’s presidential election run-off by a landslide.

Business was almost brought to a standstill by the women as they marched triumphantly through the streets chanting party slogans urging President Mugabe to soldier on and lead Zimbabweans to the Promised Land through economic empowerment.

Some of the placards carried messages thanking the President for uplifting the status of women in Zimbabwe. Central Committee member and Masvingo Senator-elect Cde Maina Mandava, one of the brains behind the procession, said they were marching to reaffirm their support for the President following a grueling election period that started with the March 29 harmonised polls.

"We staged the march as Zanu-PF women in Masvingo to celebrate our President’s victory, which was indeed sweet news for us. President Mugabe’s re-election as Head of State was no mean achievement considering what we went through to achieve the victory. So for us as women in Masvingo, there was every reason to celebrate.

"We also wanted to show solidarity with the President in the face of continuing acts of provocation by some Western countries led by Britain and the US. We wanted to send a clear

message that we are fully behind him," said Cde Mandava. She added that President Mugabe’s victory was special for women, as it would give the veteran nationalist ample time to complete various empowerment programmes particularly those tailor-made to cater for women.

Cde Mandava said it was through President Mugabe’s visionary leadership that some of the women were able to start their own businesses and enabling them to compete at the same platform with men through the ongoing 100 percent empowerment drive.

"President Mugabe’s re-election as Head of State will give him more time to finish off his empowerment programmes that are aimed at making sure that Zimbabweans fully assume ownership of their wealth and resources," she added.

Cde Mugabe convincingly won last week’s presidential run-off election after garnering over two million votes compared to his rival Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T, who polled less than 200 000 votes.

Mujuru mourns crash victims

Herald Reporter

ACTING President Joice Mujuru yesterday sent a condolence message to the families of 14 farmers from Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe who perished in an accident at Nyaitenga River bridge near Nyadire Mission School in Mutoko on Monday.

The farmers were on their way to Mbare Musika in Harare to deliver their produce when tragedy struck.

"On behalf of the Government and the people of Zimbabwe, my family, and indeed on my own behalf, I wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased," she said in a statement yesterday.

The Acting President described the deaths as a tragic loss to the nation since the farmers were playing a critical role in ensuring national food security and enhancing the welfare of their families.

"As the close relatives of the deceased mourn their beloved ones, I pray that God comforts them in their hour of bereavement and that they may find consolation in the thought that their loss is keenly felt by all of us," she said.

MDC parties ready for talks

Herald Reporter

THE two MDC parties yesterday said they were ready to engage Zanu-PF in dialogue, as that was the only way the country could overcome its current challenges.

In separate interviews, the two formations said there was urgent need to engage all political stakeholders in the discussions that should bring a lasting political settlement to the country.

This follows President Mugabe’s call for dialogue among all political players in the country.

Speaking after being sworn in as Head of State on Sunday, President Mugabe said: "Indeed, it is my hope that sooner rather than later, we shall, as diverse political parties, hold consultations towards such serious dialogue as will minimise our differences and enhance the area of unity and co-operation."

Secretary-general for the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC faction Welshman Ncube said there was need for an urgent meeting between political parties in the country.

"Obviously, the next step is to convene an urgent meeting among political players. It has to be as inclusive as possible.

"We have always been ready for dialogue. We have been calling for dialogue, for a political settlement,’’ he said.

He said dialogue should not be done through the media to avoid distortions, unless the contents for publication are agreed to.

"There is need for parties to stop talking through the media and maybe start by agreeing on what needs to be talked about, to draw out an agenda."

Ncube said apart from political parties, all other stakeholders with a role to play should be included in the dialogue.

Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson for MDC-T, concurred with Ncube on the need for an urgent negotiated settlement.

"Our hope is to pursue dialogue to ensure that we have a negotiated settlement and understanding," he said.

He said MDC-T was in favour of dialogue for national healing.

Chamisa said all peace-loving Zimbabweans wanted dialogue aimed at ending the current economic, political and social challenges besetting the country.

He said the talks should be open and genuine.

"We are warm to a negotiated settlement and we believe that talking should be about genuine dialogue, not swallowing of one another," Chamisa said.

On Monday, traditional leaders welcomed dialogue between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations, saying this was the only way the current problems could be resolved.

Chief Fortune Charumbira, the president of the Chiefs’ Council, said the traditional leaders were "very excited by President Mugabe’s statement on dialogue" and challenged opposition parties to seriously consider talks.

"As traditional leaders, we support that and we hope the opposition would be forthcoming to the call made by the President to hold talks and work together as one family," Chief Charumbira said.

Zanu Ndonga also welcomed dialogue, saying it was in the best interests of the country but pointed out that it should not be confined only to Zanu-PF and the MDC formations.

West can go hang, says Charamba

From Itai Musengeyi in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

THE West can "go hang a thousand times" for criticising Zimbabwe’s presidential election run-off and their parrot Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who has been lambasting Zimbabwe and calling for military intervention, should shut up because he has blood dripping from his hands, a senior Government official said yesterday.

The Secretary for Information and Publicity and President Mugabe’s Press Secretary, Cde George Charamba, told international journalists here yesterday that the West should have no claim whatsoever in Zimbabwe’s politics and they can "go hang a thousand times".

Cde Charamba said Odinga — who got into power after causing post-election violence that killed nearly 2 000 Kenyans — was the least qualified to criticise Zimbabwe.

"Odinga’s hands drip with blood, raw African blood, and the blood will not go away by criticising Zimbabwe," said Cde Charamba.

Odinga has been one of those so-called African leaders being often quoted by the Western media and used by the West to lampoon Zimbabwe over its recent elections.

Cde Charamba was addressing the international media on the sidelines of the African Union summit, which is being attended by President Mugabe and several other African leaders.

Vice-President Joice Mujuru is the Acting President in Cde Mugabe’s absence.

Odinga has called for the suspension of Zimbabwe from the AU and setting-aside of last week’s presidential election run-off won by President Mugabe, followed by the sending of a peacekeeping force to Zimbabwe.

But Cde Charamba said the Zimbabwean issue would be solved by Zimbabweans themselves with the assistance of people of goodwill and not former colonisers bent on perpetuating their control of Africa.

He made it clear to a group of journalists who mobbed him that nobody would dictate to Zimbabwe how to run its affairs.

"The way out is a way defined by the Zimbabwean people. Kenya is Kenya, Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe," he said after a suggestion that Zimbabwe should adopt a power-sharing deal similar to the one implemented in Kenya.

He also made it clear President Mugabe was attending the AU summit as President of Zimbabwe.

"He is part of the summit. He has come as President of Zimbabwe. He will go home as President of Zimbabwe and if you visit Zimbabwe you will find him as President of Zimbabwe."

There have been futile attempts here by the West and its embedded media to portray President Mugabe as illegitimate.

On Monday, President Mugabe told some such journalists that they were "bloody idiots" and should stop asking him stupid questions as he left the Sharm el-Sheik Conference Centre, where the summit is being held.

He reminded the journalists that Zimbabwe was not a British colony after they asked him on what basis he was calling himself President of Zimbabwe.

President Omar Bongo of Gabon told journalists that Cde Mugabe "is president" of Zimbabwe.

"He was elected, he took an oath, and he is here with us, so he is president and we cannot ask him more," said Mr Bongo.

"He conducted elections and I think he won."

Mr Bongo criticised the West’s interference in African affairs.

"I can certainly tell you that we are not obliged to obey orders from overseas," Mr Bongo said.

Asked about calls for the AU to condemn President Mugabe’s election, Mr Bongo said: "Africans are able to decide for themselves. We have even received Mugabe as a hero.

"We understand the attacks (by the international community), but this is not the way they should react. What they have done is, in our opinion, a little clumsy, and we think they could have consulted us (the AU) first."

Asked when President Mugabe would retire, Cde Charamba said that was a surprising question because he was "few days into office and you expect him to retire?"

He shot down suggestions that the AU should mediate in the Zimbabwean issue, saying President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, who is brokering dialogue between Government and the opposition, was doing so on behalf of Sadc, one of the regional groupings that make up the AU.

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