Saturday, January 26, 2008

Zimbabwe News Bulletin: Elections Set for March 29; Misreading Kenya; Zuma, Zenawi Blasts West

Polls set for March 29

Zimbabwe Herald Reporter

PRESIDENT Mugabe has set March 29 as the election date, a day after the dissolution of Parliament to pave way for the polls.

In an Extraordinary Government Gazette released yesterday, the President proclaimed March 29, 2008, as the day on which presidential, parliamentary and council elections will be held.

He also issued a proclamation dissolving Parliament at midnight on March 28, 2008 and set Friday, February 8 2008 as the day on which Nomination Courts will sit countrywide to receive nominations of candidates for the elections.

The President also set Friday March 7, 2008 as the date when the Provincial Assemblies of Chiefs shall meet to elect chiefs to the Council of Chiefs.

Chiefs will meet at Chiefs Halls in Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South for the elections.

Cde Mugabe set March 14 as the date on which the elected Council of Chiefs will meet to elect the President and Deputy President of the Council of Chiefs as well as eight chiefs who will all be members of the Senate.

The Nomination Court for presidential candidates will sit at the High Court at Mashonganyika Building while those for senators and Members of the House of Assembly will meet at magistrates’ courts in each of the country’s 10 provinces.

Nomination Courts for council candidates will sit at council offices throughout the country.

The holding of the harmonised elections follows the passage of Constitutional Amendment (Number 18), which saw the number of elected Members of House of Assembly being increased from 120 to 210.

There will be 60 senators to be directly elected while 10 provincial governors, six non-constituency members appointed by the President and 10 chiefs will also be part of the Senate.

The constitutional amendments are as a result of the Sadc-brokered dialogue between Zanu-PF and MDC which also saw the sponsoring of amendments to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Public Order and Security Act and the Broadcasting Services Act.

The elections will be held in accordance with the Sadc Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

In a related matter, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has announced that the delimitation report it compiled in preparation for the elections was now a final document.

ZEC public relations manager Mr Shupikai Mashereni said the final report had since been delivered to the relevant authorities including political parties.

Zanu-Ndonga, which has over the week been complaining about its failure to access the report, confirmed receiving the document.

"We have eventually received the report and our preliminary assessment is that it was a job well done.

"We shall be soon meeting as the party national executive to discuss it further," said the party’s national organising secretary, Mr Gondai Vutuza, who is eyeing Musikavanhu constituency in Chipinge, Manicaland Province.

MDC: Misreading Kenya’s civil unrest

It is so clear what the MDC game plan ahead of March 2008 is. The MDC seeks to choreograph confrontation with the authorities, all for outside, western judgment.

The MDC seeks a decent pretext for boycotting elections it knows it is destined to lose. The MDC wants to win victim status, hoping western pity will re-launch it in the electoral aftermath. No one particularly worries about all these goals, ignoble though they are.

Nothing much is expected from it, except by its agonising sponsors. What must been taken seriously though is MDC attempts at fomenting civil unrest along the lines of what happened in Kenya. And the concern is not over its capacity to pull such a feat of chaos.

That capacity does not exist, both within its leadership, and among its supporters. MDC’s cause is too spindle-legged to move anyone. Besides, a party which boycotts cannot build enough stock of anger.

Only one which participates, and is perceived to have been robbed. People’s sense of justice has to be injured. But not where one stays out of the ring. Surely Tsvangirai read as much from his uneventful boycott of Senatorial elections? Maybe he didn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t, can’t.

Hard knuckles, blood even

What should be taken very seriously is what MDC’s western backers are asking it to do, under the guise of marching for "freedom". Their first attempt was quite subdued. It did not galvanise the public. Both indicated their disposition against this foreign instigation.

They are a reluctant foreign legion, commanded by foreign generals in a very difficult fight they may not believe in.

But they cannot mutiny, much as they mounted fitful demonstrations against the master in the Sadc-initiated dialogue. Such as co-sponsoring Amendment 18 and the subsequent bills. But the boss is now more insistent, handling them much tighter.

We are in the middle of a bruising fight with the British and their European and American allies, a bruising fight with our former coloniser who wishes to push the clock back, hoping to climb our backs once more. We are fighting the threat of re-colonisation.

In such a fight, tolerance level for civil unrest is never liberal, certainly never as generous as we saw in Kenya. Let no one in the MDC ever expect anything short of bare knuckles. Blood even. The reasons are not hard to fathom.

It is so clear to everyone who thinks that for Zimbabwe, the British want a war which does not commit them directly. They cannot afford direct deployment here. But they want consequences of such a development which are: the demise of Zanu-PF and a subsequent emergence of a client state, happy and able to restore and house a white British plantation class which Zanu-PF ousted here. They want a neo-colony in Zimbabwe, and have worked so hard, spent so much, towards creating it.

Settled by history

But they have one major setback, apart from the strength of Zanu-PF.

They have a very bad Trojan Horse they have called MDC.

At times this bad horse has been an outright embarrassment, shrieking when it should be stealing on the enemy.

But make no mistake, the chaos of the Kenya, which MDC now hankers after, will just be a smokescreen for an American-backed British aggression against Zimbabwe. It will be aggression against our Independence. And by now we should all know how to handle that which threatens our sovereignty, our very being.

After all, history has long settled this matter. It has also itemised things that make up the heavy ordinance for dealing with such a national threat. Zanu-PF and its Government do not have to re-invent the wheel.

MDC’s siblings

The above threat means every patriot must correctly read what has happened in Kenya, and draw useful lessons from those developments. We have allowed MDC to misread these unfortunate developments in that sister African country, and to paste and appropriate false signification on events there to selfish ends.

By any definition, Kibaki and Odinga represent the same ideology, carry features from the same mould. The people Odinga recently deployed against Kibaki — which means the people Kibaki acted against in the ensuing chaos — are fundamentally the same people both mobilised and relied upon to oust former President Moi in 2002.

They did so under the banner of democracy, rule of law, transparency and all that claptrap we have grown to associate with the West’s neo-colonial project on the continent. The carrier of equivalent politics here has always been the MDC, which is why MDC euphorically welcomed the Kibaki win in 2002. Let that not be lost to anyone.

Complete foreclosure

If the political process in Kenya is now castigated and maligned for all the claimed evil, it means a double indictment against the West’s project in Kenya, indeed against the political proxies of the West (MDC’s counterparts) in that country.

After all, following the split between Kibaki and Odinga, the West controlled both sides in the political equation. They still do to this day, which is why their pronouncements on those polls have been spectacularly ambiguous as can never be done on Zimbabwe.

In Kenya, foreigners are both in and out of Government, in and out of opposition, and control could never be more complete. Which means any failures in any direction indict the West, mark a dramatic degradation of its politics on the continent, and one so bloody to poor slum dwellers.

The politics which the MDC espouse, which are so close to those of Kenya both before and after 2002; the politics which MDC promises should it ever win power, which again are close to Kenya’s after 2000 and before December 2007, all these politics stand condemned by the Kenyan experience.

No foreclosure could be more complete. Outside thick ignorance, nothing else explain MDC’s present comfort in drawing generous parallels between its "struggles" and those in Kenya.

Winning at swings and roundabouts

Until now, Kenya has been the West’s ideological touchstone, daily polished and varnished for a shiny export elsewhere on the continent. Beyond politics, Kenya has been a model of how Western control of national politics creates and yields a safe haven and rich pickings for western capital.

The sad thing is that any outcome from the present flurry of mediation simply guarantees and perpetuates Western interests. Any compromises which Kibaki makes, will simply make the Kenyan Government weaker and thus less resolute in dealing with marauding capital.

Kenya is not about to be another Iran in 1979, where defeat of a corrupt protégé government of the West makes way for a radical, nationalist outcome.

There will not be any paradigm shift in Kenyan politics, beyond a discovery of the folly of mutual ruin on the part of the two estranged allies. Both the ruling party and the opposition have been severely damaged and weakened by the chaos, and brighter chances have gone to those outside the present conflict.

Outside that, only foreigners have won, much remotely less the dwellers of Kibera whose blood counts for little else, beyond bargaining for office.

Africa’s potential win

But the fallout has damaged a major weapon in the West’s arsenal of soft power. The West today cannot make a persuasive propaganda case out of Kenya.

Not only do we now know that democracy is no magic wand; we also now know that it comes second to peace and stability, in fact that it can undermine both, to create the mayhem that leaves a food sufficient Nation scrambling for donor handouts, grappling with vast numbers of internally displaced.

Kenya does not illustrate a democratic deficit; it amply demonstrates the bloody deficit of the ballot and of a neo-colonial set up. And when the ballot fails, Kenya tells us that for Africa, far higher than the preservation of outcome of the ballot is unconditionally fixing a government of national unity (GNU).

All along the West has been demanding competitive politics, which is why Zimbabwe’s Unity Accord has never been hailed as a model. And also that both monitors and observers have no peace to bring to a nation riven by the ballot. If anything, their judgments can actually inflame passions and will, in any event, bow out to higher values of mediation. Of course they can justify punitive sanctions in polities where players are as ugly as Zanu-PF and Robert Mugabe.

Maslow again

More anxious for peace than Kenyans have been western interests, hurt by the fallout. Handshakes and "peace" will come very quickly to Kenya because what is at stake is in London and Washington, not in Kibera.

For the past month and weeks, the West’s balance sheet has bled, and all participating nations have noted the disruptive consequences of un-harmonised and even vying politics in a shared neo-colony.

If the truth be said, the British, the Americans, Nordic countries, the Germans pushed different and even conflictual interests within the broad ambit of a neo-colonial arrangement.

It gave rise to hurtful national individualism whose costs have been spectacularly illustrated. As we move into the future, the West will be more coordinated to prevent a recurrence of Kenya. Zimbabwe will be a trial ground.

Otherwise Kofi Annan need not exaggerate his conflict resolution prowess. It has been cut out for him. He is only lucky to allowed to claim fame from that "mediation". It is clear that a need far more lower and thus more compelling lower you’re your and my right to vote, has been directing Kenya’s aftermath.

Mbeki versus Annan

Which invites a remarkable contrast.

Mbeki’s peace proposition here will be a lonely one. It will not bring any fame, as does that for Kenya. It will not be as well-resourced, as well-publicised, and ultimately, as loudly applauded when it breaks through.

His will be a thankless effort, in fact one constantly derided and ill-wished.

In Kenya, peace and reconciliation is unconditionally needed, needed well above the ballot and democracy. In Kenya the shaping dynamic comes from Adam Smith, not from Alexis de Tocqueville.

In Zimbabwe, Tocqueville covers for Adam Smith. Violence and chaos are needed to get Mugabe to just go. Hence the prologue called "freedom march", which has also become the epilogue. Viewed from such a perspective, it is not difficult to understand why the British who are so anxious to engineer a negotiated settlement in Kenya, are so keen to inflame passions here.

Jacob Zuma who is in Davos has just said it: the single biggest stumbling block to peace and understanding in the politics of Zimbabwe is the meddling West which is telling South Africa what to say to President Mugabe. Zuma was being polite. He meant the British and Americans.

What they have been doing here

And if anyone doubted, they would have seen it this week. A small, stupid and unlawful march by the MDC is vast enough to attract the notice of the BBC which pushes it to headline status, clearly more to grow it than to accurately report on it in its insignificant proportion.

Such a non-event is important enough to feature on the routine briefings of the Bush administration, with Bush’s all-white, black ambassador here losing early morning sweet time with his wife (if he has one) to find out how well Tsvangirai is after a gentle invitation to Harare Central.

As if that was not enough, both the British and Americans camped at Harvest House (vehicles 80 CD 111 (for the British) and 81 CD 353 and 479 (for the Americans), waiting for chaos. I suppose for them, that is the seat of Government that has accredited them! Thank God Manheru does not control the Police. If I did, I would ensure a more generous definition of the zone for collateral damages.

A diplomat who decides to become an MDC, then a demonstrator, then a thug and much worse, does not deserve any modicum of courtesy.

The stakes are high, getting higher everyday to March.

For all the histrionics in the Zimbabwe Independent, Britain’s other plank is as good as deflated, its attempts at option B shadowed.

That initiative is doomed, including attempts to use it to wreck the Sadc initiative. Provincial chairmen who had been corrupted by dirty money are known, have or are being neutralised. Nothing happened on Thursday; much happened before then, with many in that thoughtless plot hopelessly fighting to vindicate themselves.

Others have taken a gape, including Nkosana Moyo who concluded the "thing" had collapsed and went back "home" (Britain).

I do not know whether Jonathan was lucky enough to intercept the "coordinator" in Jo’burg, already in high, frenetic flight, together with his limping vision of "a new generation" of young Zimbabwe leaders.

And "new" means "now", even when the politics sought relate decadent colonialism, itself a Victorian ideal, seeking re-enactment in 21st Century Africa. New indeed! Poor Mbudzi, now being sacrificed, now being made enormous enough to command big, well-decorated men of war and star politicians. A mere major? He now threatens to spill the beans. He won’t for they will make sure his mouth is full enough.

Banking on veranda boys

And there was much that was hopeless in MDC’s latest bid for fame in the West. The MDC sought to marshal hordes of Harare’s veranda boys — idle lumpens — for whom any carnival is kingdom come. The Tsvangirai faction is a very blunt instrument.

Much worse, it is an embarrassment. Picture this. Biti is Tsvangirai’s man in the Sadc talks. Like an impetuous student in an afternoon law seminar, he has been the most forward, the most prolific on drafts, which have given us the 18th Amendment, and the concomitant four bills. But he has also been the most un-contemplative, the most unreflective.

Just how does such a man breach a law he has just made? How does he lose the first case ever to come from implementation of his law? Who is failing the test? Did he understand his contributions? Or is he just beginning to read it against very painful experiences?

Could this give credence to claims that have dogged him in his party, which if true would suggest Zanu-PF has in fact been negotiating with itself? If MDC supporters had some brains — just a little — they would be quizzing Biti on why he brought home a faggot so full of ants and still hoped for a good, warm sleep for all.

POSA as amended by Biti and company now disallows demonstrations on all centres of power: State House, Parliament, Courts, Town Houses, etc. Of course it allows the MDC and its zealous horde to go to Glamis Stadium, quite the opposite direction to power.

There, they can yell and yodel until jackals out-howl them. Was that the intended gain? By the way Glamis — Glamis — is very British, and no one in MDC saw the irony of that venue, namely that, thanks to Biti, the negotiations have conveyed them to the British Thane of Glamis, which is where the battle will be lost! Surely your country needs a better puppet, raving Dr Pocock. Hey, but you write good English, Dr Peacock, only sorely needing a decent cause than one you peddle in "britain and Zimbabwe!"

Zuma, Zenawi blast US, Europe over Zim

DAVOS--ANC president Jacob Zuma has said the United States’ and European interference is hindering efforts to reconcile the MDC and Government, as Ethiopian Prime Minister Mr Meles Zenawi hit out at the West for imposing its form of democracy and double standards on countries like Zimbabwe.

"The US and Europeans tell us what we need to do and tell (President) Mugabe," Mr Zuma told reporters on the sidelines of the annual gathering of business and political leaders in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

"That undermines our efforts," he said, adding that the issue contained "an element of racism".

President Thabo Mbeki was tasked last March by fellow Sadc leaders with mediating between Zanu-PF and MDC.

"Nobody is doing more to help the situation in Zimbabwe than South Africa," said Mr Zuma, who took over the leadership of the ANC from President Mbeki last month.

As head of the party, he is the automatic frontrunner to succeed Mr Mbeki as head of state next year despite the prospect of a corruption trial in August.

"I’m not sure I will do anything fundamentally different," he said, when asked if he would change Pretoria’s policy on Zimbabwe if he becomes president.

"Maybe it would be a question of style," he added.

Mr Zuma’s comments come in the wake of MDC’s attempts to have the March 29 presidential, parliamentary and council elections deferred until a new constitution is put in place.

But Government has said postponement of the elections is out of question because MDC wants to buy time because it is not prepared for the polls despite co-sponsoring amendments to the Constitution and other laws in Parliament to pave way for the elections.

Government believes MDC’s Western handlers are behind the attempts to scupper the inter-party talks with Zanu-PF.

This week, the opposition’s march to call for a new constitution and other demands flopped after the police and the courts outlawed it after the MDC leaders threatened to engage in violence "worse than the civil unrest in Kenya" triggered by a disputed election.

Despite the ban on the march, rowdy MDC supporters rioted in the city centre in Harare on their way to a rally addressed by their leaders.

Political analysts say the demonstration was meant to attract the attention of the African Union which meets in Ethiopia next week and the EU which meets next month to extend its illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe.

In a rare interview published in the Guardian newspaper in London, Mr Zenawi lamented the West’s attitude towards Zimbabwe, whose President Robert Mugabe, his entire Cabinet and senior ruling party officials are barred from travelling to Europe and are treated as international pariahs in particular by former colonial rulers Britain.

"I believe democratic forms of government are applicable everywhere and are better than the alternatives. And we feel that countries and peoples can share their experiences to help others to democratise. So that is all to the good.

"When it becomes a problem is when countries pretend their foreign policy is based on democratisation when this is clearly not the case.

"For all the challenges in Zimbabwe, for example, it is a bit of a stretch to say it is less democratic than some of the sheikhdoms of the Gulf. But none of the sheikhdoms has a problem visiting Europe," he added.

"We believe democracy cannot be imposed from outside in any society.

"Democracy is the expression of a sovereign people. To impose it from outside is inherently undemocratic. Each sovereign nation has to make its own decisions and have its own criteria as to how they govern themselves."

Mr Zenawi also warned the West against imposing sanctions on Kenya to try to force the country to resolve the deadly standoff triggered by disputed elections.

"The threat of Western sanctions as a response to the current crisis in Kenya is very, very misguided," he told the Guardian daily.

"If it is presumed that the Kenyans will democratise in order to eat the peanuts of development assistance from the European Union, for example, it would be a big mistake."

—AFP-Herald Reporter.

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