Thursday, June 13, 2013

Zimbabwe Welcomes Genuine, Impartial Observers

Zim welcomes genuine, impartial observers

Wednesday, 12 June 2013 00:00
Zimbabwe Herald

The long-awaited harmonised elections are on the horizon with voting expected by July 31, and the election fever has caught many, even our avowed detractors from the Western hemisphere.

Even though President Mugabe is still to announce the election date, all eyes are on our country. And as we reported yesterday, Western countries are lobbying to be allowed in to observe the elections.

We have said it before and we reiterate for emphasis, our country strives for peaceful, free, and fair elections but our erstwhile colonisers and their allies are intent on denying us that right through their ruinous economic sanctions regimes that were imposed in a bid to influence voting patterns.

We find it ironic that in lobbying to be allowed to observe our elections, Western nations dangle sanctions removal as a carrot which sanctions they claim they will remove after the elections.

They must take us for buffoons. They know very well they imposed the sanctions to worsen the socioeconomic situation and breed protest votes to abet their cause through the MDC-T, therefore for our elections to be free and fair, the sanctions have to go.

Be that as it may, we still want our elections to be certified through an equally fair and objective process, and it is the responsibility of election observers and monitors to use internationally accepted benchmarks to do this.

In order to fulfil these international best practices, we require observers.

However, as a sovereign state we have the mandate to invite observers of our choice; observers we believe will observe the election objectively; observers who do not have hidden agendas; and, observers who are not biased. It is a two-way process.

Apart from Sadc and the African Union, Zimbabwe has a wide pool of professional observer teams from friendly countries, which it can invite.

How Zimbabwe selects the observers is an in-house process because as a country, Zimbabwe has never imposed its will to observe other sovereign states’ elections, for doing so would have meant that Zimbabwe was putting itself at a higher pedestal.

It is in this context that we ask why the West is acting in panic mode, and going to Zanu-PF to lobby that they be allowed to observe the coming elections. Whose interests do they want to safeguard: theirs or those of the people of Zimbabwe?

Is this diplomatic charm offensive toward Zanu-PF also an admission of “guilt” on their part?

However, it is also easy to see the carrot and stick being dangled: if the West is allowed to observe the elections and they deem them free, fair and credible, then the rest is history - the illegal sanctions will be removed and it will be business as usual.

On the other hand, if they deem the poll not free, fair and credible, then the illegal sanctions remain, together with the regime change agenda.

Germany’s Regional Director for sub-Saharan Africa Mr Egon Kochanke told Zanu-PF national chairman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, “I think if your country is able to have free, fair, transparent and credible elections and for this I think it’s also important to have some sort of international observation”.

There are so many “ifs” in the lobbying statements, with some of them implying that they do not believe that Zimbabwe is in fact capable of holding free, fair and credible elections.

You also note the patronising and paternalistic approach, and this is evident in the fact that the West thinks that only they have the ability and professional standing to declare elections free and fair.

They also believe that if they are not part of the process, it then is not fair.

The West should, however, realise that Zimbabwe also needs answers. Why is it that they are now lobbying for observer status?

Has it always been like this since 1980? Who spoiled the relationship considering that Zimbabwe does not observe elections in Western countries?

Since the formation of the MDC amid the land reform programme and the elections that followed thereafter, Western observer missions behaved differently, and biased too.

They came to observe elections with pre-conceived ideas. We witnessed that charade with observers from the European Union and the Commonwealth who presented reports that did not reflect the reality on the ground.

There were also some incidents where the so-called election observers either sneaked into the country as visitors, when in actual fact they would be on active duty. When they were discovered and kicked out of the country, this gave them reason to brew diplomatic rows to discredit the process.

Thus we ask why they should be trusted? What has changed?

If the truth be told, the West has created an uneven playing field. When they bankrolled the illegal regime change agenda to the tune of US$2,6 billion throughout the life of the inclusive Government, was this done with the expectation of ensuring free, fair and credible elections?

If they have destabilised the process in the past, why should they be trusted now?

Thus we concur with Zanu-PF national chairman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo’s strong sentiments that “if Sadc, the AU and other countries that are friendly to Zimbabwe are to observe these elections and declare them free and fair, then why should any other party dispute that?”

We also reject the exploitative tactics used by the West where their permanent economic interests are more important than the people of Zimbabwe and the government they are electing.

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