Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: ZANU-PF Retains Goromonzi West; Comesa Summit Postponed; West Should Not Block Way Forward

Zanu-PF retains Goromonzi West

By Zvamaida Murwira and Sydney Kawadza
Courtesy of the Zimbabwe Herald

ZANU-PF has retained Goromonzi West House of Assembly and Senate seats in the first batch of poll recount results released last night while the Sadc observer team says it is satisfied with the vote recounting process currently underway in 23 constituencies.

The ruling party gained one vote in the House of Assembly recount, pushing the result to 6 194 against MDC-T’s 5 931 while the results for the Senate remained unchanged at 5 672.

The Goromonzi West recount was one of the two recounts requested by MDC-T while Zanu-PF requested 21 others.

In Zvimba North, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials are expecting to wrap up the recount today.

Mashonaland West provincial elections officer Mr Michael Guzha yesterday said the exercise was still going on with no hitches.

"We are currently clearing Ward 18 and then work on Ward 30 and Ward 31 that have a total of 14 polling stations," he said.

Sadc director of politics, defence and security at the regional bloc’s secretariat Retired Lieutenant-Colonel Tanki Mothae said they had deployed almost 60 observers for the recounting process.

"Everything is going on smoothly. There are good relations between the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, political parties’ polling agents and observers. We have not received any problems so far.

"We are receiving reports from our teams on the ground, but so far we have not heard any reports of any irregularity, like tampering with ballot boxes for example. We are satisfied with the process," said Rtd Lt-Col Mothae.

Angolan Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture Mr Marcos Barrica, who headed the initial Sadc observer team which was in the country for the March 29 elections, is also heading the current team that arrived in the country last Wednesday and Friday.

He said the team was drawn from all the Sadc countries and would be in the country until the whole process was complete.

The Sadc observer team, along with many other foreign observers, endorsed the March poll as free and fair.

The foreign observers included the Pan African Parliament, the African Union, and Comesa, among others.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which is also observing the recounting process, yesterday said it was not yet in a position to comment.

ZEC yesterday said the recounting process was expected to be completed in Goromonzi West today and that the exercise was at various stages in the other 22 constituencies.

The commission’s deputy chief elections officer responsible for operations Mr Utloile Silaigwana said the process had taken longer than anticipated because of the meticulous verification process involved.

"Recounting is going on well but rather on a slow pace than had been anticipated because the agents want to verify one or two things.

"There is progress and maybe we should be through in Goromonzi West by tomorrow (today). In the other constituencies, the recounting is at varying stages," he said.

Mr Silaigwana said results from the recounting would be announced in the constituencies.

Recounts are being carried out in Chimanimani West, Mutare West, Bikita West, Bikita South, Bulilima East, Zhombe, Zaka West, Zvimba North, Silobela, Chiredzi North, Mberengwa East, West, South and North, and Gutu South, North and Central.

Govt postpones Comesa summit

Herald Reporter

GOVERNMENT has postponed the convening of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Summit slated for Victoria Falls next month to a later date owing to the post-electoral process underway in the country.

In a statement yesterday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha said new dates of the summit would be announced after the necessary consultations have been made.

"Due to the necessity to fulfil constitutional requirements as a result of the recently-held harmonised elections, the Government of Zimbabwe has decided to postpone convening of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa summit to a later date.

"This follows realisation that the original summit dates might coincide with the uncompleted electoral process," he said.

Independent monitors and Zanu-PF have said results posted outside polling stations around the country show that none of the presidential candidates won the required margin to be declared the winner and there is need for a run-off.

Zimbabwe, which will assume chairmanship of Comesa, was scheduled to hold the summit in the resort town from May 5 to 15, starting with officials and ministers’ meetings before the Heads of State and Government met.

Comesa was formed in 1994 to replace its forerunner, the Preferential Trade Area, which came into existence in 1981.

It was established as an organisation of free independent sovereign states, which had agreed to co-operate in developing their natural and human resources for the good of all their people.

West should stop blocking Zimbabwe’s way forward

By Dr Obediah Mukura Mazombwe

THE West, particularly the Anglo-American establishment, should stop insisting that President Mugabe and Zanu-PF can not be part of a future prosperous Zimbabwe.

It is the latter that created the independent State of Zimbabwe, indeed against other preferred options of the West.

African nationalists in nationalist-liberated Sadc, including those of South Africa and Zambia are acutely aware of this.

The West has raised the stakes on this issue to a level where Zimbabwean society has been polarised to breaking point.

The opposition is promising "the Hague" for the country’s present rulers, whilst the rulers accuse the opposition of treason.

This is exactly where Western-controlled global media apparently wanted the country, when, together with Zimbabwean opposition, they insisted Government would either rig the elections, or lose them overwhelmingly.

They "predicted" inevitable mayhem.

In the event, the Government did not rig the elections, and in spite of a ruthlessly battered economy, the opposition did not make a clean sweep.

Subsequently, the West’s political strategists went fishing and their "catch" is what we have in Zimbabwe today.

The International Crisis Group Zimbabwe Report of March 2008, though hugely and typically neo-colonial, mourns the fact that the West’s position on President Mugabe and Zanu-PF constitutes an impediment to reaching a possible negotiated settlement in Zimbabwe.

The report suggests that a negotiated way forward for Zimbabwe need not necessarily exclude President Mugabe, and should that inclusion be part of a genuinely negotiated agreement that aims at reconciliation and renewal, the Euro-Americans "should not hold back".

Michelle Gavin, the BBC’s reporter in South Africa last week remarked to the effect that the dire situation in Zimbabwe could be salvaged if the West supported Sadc efforts, rather than working parallel or against them.

In fact the West should abandon rather than "soften" its exclusivist stance on President Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

It is politically nonsensical and morally hypocritical, based entirely on their capital and military might.

Mugabe’s thought, in its purest form, and Zanu-PF’s land/sovereignty-centred ideology, past challenges with transforming these into viable programmes notwithstanding, have huge resonance with the majority of Zimbabwean and African masses.

These are also the core values around which the Zimbabwean State was founded.

American leadership has made horrible blunders in the United States itself, in Iraq, and elsewhere, but that cannot justify "calling" on America to repudiate the very core ideas on which the American state is founded.

The Anglo-American establishments in their current efforts to destabilise and unseat the ruling liberation movements in Zimbabwe and South Africa have no less an objective than the above.

Zimbabwe’s independence-land-sovereignty centred ideology is not only legitimate.

It is also more human rights-based, and has greater potential for addressing African poverty and famine than the Western transnational corporation-driven model for development. And herein can be found Zimbabwe’s major problem with Western establishments.

Men and women of reason, the world over, are able to relate talk of massive Western financial assistance for a "reformed" Zimbabwe, on one hand, to failed IMF/WB ESAP projects, on the other.

They can relate the impending global food shortages and food riots to reckless commodification of edible cereals.

They can relate talk of "draconian" Zimbabwean legislation to the United States Patriot Act.

Thereafter they will draw their own conclusions.

Indeed the Zimbabwean situation is "dire", but not all is lost. Zimbabwe and Africa and the progressive international community can turn it around.

For this to happen two conditions must be recognised, accepted, and met on the ground accepted by all the stakeholders:

1) The current socio-economic environment in Zimbabwe is not conducive, and the country’s political dynamics so distorted, that holding a free and fair election run-off in the immediate term is literally impossible.

The current economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, without delving into the question of their justifiability or otherwise, render the playing field uneven for both the electorate and contending parties.

Accordingly, the most viable and safest way forward is for the Sadc to mediate negotiations for a transitional government of national unity, which will:

(a) Call on the international community to compel Europe and the US to urgently lift their economic sanctions on Zimbabwe.

(b) Write, with the assistance of experienced Sadc members and the international community, a new constitution for Zimbabwe which will be adopted only after a national referendum.

(c) In collaboration with Sadc and invited members of the international community, organise fresh free and fair elections.

2) The Zimbabwe Government and independent international observers are agreed that the just-ended harmonised elections did not produce an outright winner in the presidential race. It is unlikely that the on-going recount will substantively alter that position.

Accordingly, it stands to reason that, the transitional government of national unity, negotiated by the two leading contending parties, under the mediation of Sadc, supported by the international community, should be led by the incumbent president.

For the above scenario to materialise, there needs to be a major paradigm shift in the thinking of three major players.

It is up to Sadc, assisted by the progressive international community, to ensure that such a shift does take place.

The three players are the ruling Zanu-PF party, the opposition MDC-T party, and the UK/US establishments.

The peace and security of Zimbabwe, that it has enjoyed since independence, is at great risk. Whilst the ruling party must stop behaving like a wounded buffalo, the opposition party must stop its hysterics and lapses into delusion.

The ruling party, as the senior and more experienced organisation, both nationally and internationally, needs to show greater self-restraint and maturity, irrespective of how much it might feel justifiably angered by developments in the last few weeks.

Amongst themselves, there will be no harm in Zanu-PF leaders making a candid introspection of themselves, noting past problems and challenges, and rising to counter them with greater determination.

The party should allow MDC-T, now in virtual exile, to return home and freely negotiate its participation in a Sadc-mediated process that should lead to the establishment a transitional government of national unity led by the incumbent President Mugabe, who led the liberation struggle for Zimbabwe.

The few brains in MDC-T must, on their part, rein in Biti’s hysterics and Tsvangirai’s hallucinations.

Zimbabwe, Africa, the progressive world, and the real international community are not about to allow Anglo-American troops to march into Harare and do a Saddam Hussein on President Mugabe.

MDC-T can neither "fire" President Mbeki from his Sadc-appointed mediation role, nor could the Sadc summit that sat in Lusaka have declared Tsvangirai president of Zimbabwe.

MDC-T should cut loose from the leash, come home and start playing a constructive national role.

They have already invested substantially in a future stable Zimbabwe for themselves and their children.

The Anglo-American establishments should listen to the few voices of reason amongst their own. They should stop playing godfather and policeman to the world.

They do not have the moral worth and authority to do that.

Their past and present misdeeds forbid it.

Yet, as technologically and economically more advanced countries, they can play a constructive role in Zimbabwe’s way forward.

They can financially and technologically enable Sadc leaders, consulting with them (from a distance), respectfully tabling their own thoughts in a mediation process that is entirely Sadc-controlled.

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