Monday, January 28, 2008

Zimbabwe News: UN, AU Charter Upheld; Probe in AG Opens; Western Observers Serve Masters

‘Zimbabwe upholds UN, AU charters’

Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWE upholds peace, stability and tranquillity as enshrined in the United Nations and African Union charters, the Minister of Defence, Cde Sydney Sekeramayi, has said.

He said Zimbabwe’s defence policy had always been to adhere to the strictest confines of the legal principles, precepts and normative rules of the domestic legislation and international law.

Cde Sekeramayi said this yesterday while addressing a Joint Command and Staff Course (Number 21) at the Zimbabwe Staff College on the country’s defence policy.

"Zimbabwe pursues a forward-looking, non-aggressive and non-hostile defence policy based on the maintenance of a minimum credible conventional deterrent capability. It does not harbour any aggressive intentions and will not interfere in the internal affairs of any other country, including its neighbours," said Cde Sekeramayi.

"The Zimbabwe Defence Policy prioritises the country’s domestic stability and the prevention of external and internal aggression."

In the interest of non-interference, said Cde Sekeramayi, Zimbabwe champions preventive diplomacy in her interaction with other sovereign states, in the event of crisis.

"To this end, she has always observed the cardinal principle of exhausting diplomatic contacts before disputes erupt into conflicts. On all the occasions that she has had to go to war since 1980, this had to be a last resort option," he said.

The country’s defence policy is a product of interaction between its internal political, economic, social, technological and geographical dynamics with the contextual imperatives arising from external environment.

He said Zimbabwe subscribed to treaties, conventions aimed at arms control and as such does not aspire to develop any weapons of mass destruction.

He said through the assistance associated with the land reform programme, drought relief and disaster management, these activities have helped bring to the fore the defence forces’ direct and strong partnership with the civil community from which they hail.

The Minister also ran through several military activities carried out over the past decade to illustrate the underlying and consistency of the national defence policy.

These included the participation of the defence forces in peace support operations in Mozambique, Somalia, Rwanda, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo under the auspices of the UN, Organisation of African Union (now African Union) and Sadc.

He said, following the peace dividend that followed the demise of apartheid rule, Government was able to pursue prudent policies for the reduction of defence expenditure while redirecting the resources to the social sector.

Probe into AG opens

Court Reporter

THE probe into allegations of inability to discharge duties or misbehaviour against suspended Attorney-General Mr Sobusa Gula-Ndebele opened yesterday behind closed doors.

The tribunal investigating Mr Gula-Ndebele began hearing evidence on the case at the Management Training Bureau in Msasa.

Charges against Mr Gula-Ndebele stem from conduct allegedly contrary to or inconsistent with the duties of a public officer after he allegedly met former NMB deputy managing director James Mushore, who was on the police wanted list.

He was arrested in November last year and subsequently suspended by President Mugabe the following month to pave way for the inquiry.

Cde Mugabe appointed a tribunal to probe Mr Gula-Ndebele.

Mr Gula-Ndebele appeared before the tribunal chaired by High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu. The other members of the tribunal are Justice Samuel Kudya and Mr Lloyd Mhishi, a lawyer with Dube, Manikai and Hwacha law firm.

After the inquiry, the tribunal will make its recommendations to President Mugabe on whether or not Mr Gula-Ndebele should keep his position as the country’s Attorney-General.

An official from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs said they had instructions that the case be held in camera before asking this reporter to leave the room where the proceedings were taking place.

However, when the proceedings adjourned at 11:45am, all hell broke loose when Mr Gula-Ndebele, who was clad in a black, suit charged menacingly at Herald photographer Tawanda Mudimu for taking pictures of him.

Mudimu started taking pictures of Mr Gula-Ndebele as he walked down the aisle from the improvised "courtroom". He was flanked by his wife Maureen, who was also elegantly dressed in black apparel.

"Why are you taking pictures?" he asked angrily as he walked past this reporter before he made a U-turn and charged at the photographer, threatening to seize his camera.

"Why are you taking my pictures? You are not supposed to be taking my pictures," fumed Mr Gula-Ndebele."He knows that," he continued, pointing a finger at this reporter and reminded us that "the proceedings were being held in camera".

"Give me that camera, give me that camera," he shouted, stretching his arm and threatening to wrestle the camera from Mudimu’s hands.

He then turned away and walked to his car with his lawyer Advocate Happias Zhou and the instructing attorney, Mr Patrick Nyeperai of Costa and Madzonge Legal Practitioners, alongside.

Deputy Attorney-General in charge of the Civil Division Advocate Prince Machaya is appearing for the State.

Western, sponsored observers there to serve their masters

By Mabasa Sasa

A FEW weeks ago, Justice Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa indicated that Zimbabwe, like any other democratic country that has nothing to hide, would be inviting international and local observers to the forthcoming harmonised polls set for March 29.

And, like any sovereign and democratic country, Zimbabwe — Cde Chinamasa said — had the right to turn down and accept applications for observer status.

Obviously, the Government has the right to turn away anyone with any preconceived ideas about the electoral process and outcome, just as was done with Pierre

Schori in 2002 and no one should be surprised if they too find themselves declared persona non grata this time around.

And, beyond it being the State’s right to ensure the elected leadership’s legitimacy is not called into question by characters who are themselves questionable and whose agendas are even more questionable, there is an overarching duty to protect the integrity of the nation’s structures and institutions from an insidious regime change agenda.

Election observation by members of the international community is a fairly novel phenomenon, originating in the 1980s and coinciding with Cold War d├ętente and hence irrevocably tied to a need by the West to "guide" democracy in the Developing World.

The idea behind it was basically to prepare the way for the rise of pro-Western politicians in countries that had ties to the former USSR without resorting to primary strikes: The military could always be deployed as a last resort.

Before the 1980s, election observation was mainly the preserve of the United Nations, starting in the Korean peninsula in 1947 and even then the UN was a World War II creation that catered for the geo-political interests of the victorious allies.

Western observers are generally an extension of their home governments’ foreign policies and thus it can never be expected that they will give a verdict that runs contrary to the interests and goals of their motherland.

Every year American institutions such as the National Endowment for Democracy and the Westminster Foundation — the "acceptable" face of the CIA — pump thousands of dollars into NGOs to prime them for elections.

With the majority of NGOs that come as observers getting their funding from such bodies, it is only natural that countries like Zimbabwe will get negative poll appraisals when an incumbent who embodies the triumph of right over might wins an election.

In a nutshell, he who pays the piper calls the tune and in the case of a good many international observers who would like to come to Zimbabwe, the payers of the pipers are in Washington and London.

Perhaps it was after seeing the ridiculous and sometimes downright disdainful manner in which some international observers treat resource-rich and geo-politically strategic Developing World countries that a Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation was passed by the UN in October 2005.

The Declaration on Principles also came with a code of conduct and perhaps now would be the time for Western election observers to familiarise themselves with these documents before they even think of applying to come and cause mayhem in Zimbabwe.

The Declaration rightly notes that international election observation, in an increasingly globalised village where whether we like it or not there is a village bully called the US of A, that has the "potential to enhance the integrity of election processes".

The logic is that the more people who watch, then the less likely there are to be gross irregularities.

Of course, this is a mindset that is derived from the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant’s belief that an African cannot do anything without cheating and must therefore be watched closely.

Western political scientists, dating right back to the times of Athenian democracy, have always believed that the desires of the State are often in conflict with the wishes of the ruled and hence the former is always going to try and cheat the citizenry even in broad daylight.

Perhaps this is something intrinsic to the way governance developed in the West but certainly it does not mean that this is the norm across the globe. Indeed, it is another example of the West universalising the particular and particularising the universal.

Besides, all evidence points to the fact that the Western state is regularly working against the interests of not just its people, but the people of the whole world and hence there is a stronger case for American elections to be observed rather than those in Africa.

So, even from the outset, the idea of sending international observers to Africa when the same are not sent to see George W. Bush’s shenanigans in Florida already indicates that the agenda is not to facilitate the free expression of the will of the people.

The power domiciled in international observers to
lend credibility to an electoral process is what should make Zimbabwe wary of who it invites this March as everyone knows that according to some would be observers any poll won by Zanu-PF could not have been free and fair.

To this end, the UN declaration states: "No one should be allowed to be a member of an international election observer mission unless that person is free from any political, economic or other conflicts of interests that would interfere with conducting observations accurately and impartially and/or drawing conclusions about the character of the election process accurately and impartially."

Furthermore, international election observers "should be prepared to disclose the sources of their funding upon appropriate and reasonable requests".

The declaration goes on to say, "International election observation must be conducted with respect for the sovereignty of the country holding elections and with respect for the human rights of the people of the country.

"International election observation missions must respect the laws of the host country, as well as national authorities, including electoral bodies, and act in a manner that is consistent with respecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

"International election observation missions must actively seek co-operation with host country electoral authorities and must not obstruct the election process."

The code of conduct also requires them to "maintain strict political impartiality at all times" and in no way "obstruct election processes".

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