President Mugabe of Zimbabwe attended the African Union Peace and Security Council meeting held on March 10, 2011. Zimbabwe is launching a nationwide anti-sanctions campaign in this Southern African nation., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Zimbabwe's election roadmap hijacked
Saturday, 14 May 2011 23:18
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail
By Munyaradzi Huni
THE US and the UK have joined forces in a bid to hijack the roadmap to the country’s election, with US Deputy Assistant Secretary for State Ms Susan Page and her British counterpart Junior Foreign Minister David Howell being the point officials spearheading the plot that is aimed at blocking the holding of elections this year, it has emerged.
The roadmap was signed in Harare by the Global Political Agreement negotiators on April 22 this year despite five major areas of disagreement and was endorsed in Cape Town on May 6 by the South African facilitators in preparation for the eagerly awaited Extraordinary Sadc Summit on Zimbabwe and Madagascar scheduled for Windhoek, Namibia this Friday.
According to confidential information unearthed by The Sunday Mail, US and British diplomats have been busy working “under the cover of darkness” since the beginning of March to block the holding of elections this year as envisaged and agreed in the GPA fearing that the MDC-T would lose dismally.
These two countries that founded and fund the MDC-T fear that their party would lose because, unlike Zanu-PF, the Morgan Tsvangirai-led party has nothing cohesive or an appealing policy that can be a rallying point for the voters.
The Sunday Mail has authoritatively established that as part of its regime change efforts to assist the embattled Tsvangirai in his alleged diplomatic offensive when he visited Sadc leaders before the Livingstone Summit, the US dispatched in March Ms Page to Harare and other countries in the region to lay the groundwork of using the Sadc facilitation process to block the elections.
Although the propaganda that was spread when Ms Page came to Zimbabwe and the region was that she had come to support her country’s bid for the deputy chairmanship of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, The Sunday Mail has learnt that her mission was in fact to find regime change ways of blocking the 2011 election not only by hijacking the electoral road map but also by directly engaging with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
She met the ZEC leadership on March 1 at the Harare International Conference Centre for a meeting that ended around 4pm.
Confidential minutes of the meeting with the top brass of ZEC exclusively obtained by The Sunday Mail show beyond doubt that the real reason she had come to Zimbabwe was “to meet with the electoral commission and to hear how it was coping.” This followed “statements that had been made by Zanu-PF on the timing of the election in 2011” and thus “wanted to discuss directly with the people responsible for the election and wanted to hear if they had any issue they were concerned about.”
Ms Page told the ZEC leadership that she would be meeting other authorities in the region to press further her country’s demands for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe which she said could not be held in 2011.
Notably, the countries visited by Ms Page were also visited by Mr Tsvangirai in the same month during his alleged diplomatic offensive when he distributed a discredited dossier about the political and security situation in Zimbabwe whose blatantly false and inflammatory content cause havoc at and after the Livingstone Summit.
Various diplomatic sources and analysts who spoke to this paper this week about Ms Page’s March visit and its background connection with the Livingstone Summit, pointed out that there is a “chain of command” that runs through and ties together Ms Page’s visit, Mr Tsvangirai’s so-called diplomatic offensive and remarks to the House of Lords in London by Mr Howell.
Speaking in the House of Lords four days after the Livingstone Summit on April 4, Mr Howell said: “We are working with international partners, particularly with the Southern African Development Community to support the efforts to create an election roadmap…”
Analysts who are familiar with this “chain of command” say the April 22 election roadmap is a culmination of the machinations that started with Ms Page’s visit.
Ms Page is a close confidant of her boss Mr Jonnie Carson who is US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs and former ambassador to Zimbabwe. Mr Carson is said to have taken the situation in Zimbabwe personally because of his alleged hatred of President Mugabe.
When a team of Sadc officials led by Lindiwe Zulu visited Washington two weeks ago to lobby for the lifting of sanctions as directed by the Livingstone Summit, American officials including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are reported to have been willing to listen but deferred to Mr Carson who was adamant that sanctions would not be lifted without illegal regime change in Zimbabwe.
Against this background, observers say it is notable that since the March meeting with Ms Page, ZEC chairperson Justice Mtambanengwe has intensified his rhetoric that the commission does not believe it can hold elections this year.
Asked to comment on these machinations, a senior member of the national executive of the ANC in SA who was involved in the initial GPA negotiations under former SA President Mbeki who spoke on condition of anonymity for protocol reasons said there was a growing realisation in his party that “there was a lot to the goings on in Zimbawe than meets the eye.” The ANC member added that “some of us are very surprised that this much talked about Sadc election roadmap in Zimbabwe has no time frame.”
Said the member: “Where on earth comrade have you ever heard of a roadmap with no time frame? The only one who does things with no time frame is God in Heaven.
“The GPA that was negotiated, agreed and signed under Mbeki’s facilitation has a clear time frame for elections in your country and it was 18 to 24 months after the formation of the inclusive Government.
“This means in terms of the GPA, elections in your country should be held in 2011. This new talk in Sadc of a timeless roadmap which is supposedly process-driven is totally something else and we are honestly confused and saddened by it. Anyone who tells you that the call for elections in 2011 is a Zanu-PF thing is either ignorant of the GPA or just malicious and therefore very dangerous because the GPA is there.
Just go and read Article 6. What is needed is just to implement it honestly.”
The latest revelation about the involvement of US dirty hands in Sadc electoral roadmap through Ms Page’s visit and the apparent link between that visit and the remarks by Mr Howell on one hand, and on the other hand the adoption of a timeless roadmap by the negotiators under SA facilitation, is a violation of the GPA. This is set to complicate matters for Sadc leaders when they meet in Windhoek on Friday.
It remains to be seen whether the leaders will condone the violation or stand by the GPA by demanding its full implementation.-The Sunday Mail