Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mugabe's patience stretched to the limit

From the China post:

By Rejoice Ngwenya, Special to The China Post

HARARE -- On the 28th anniversary of throwing off colonial rule, we still cannot throw off one-man rule as President Robert Mugabe's clings to power after two million Zimbabweans showed him the red card. Among other accusations, Mugabe is questioning the credibility of the Zimbabwe Election Committee (ZEC), staffed by his men, and its ability to count votes.

These are the characters who have taken eight days to pronounce Parliamentary and Senatorial results and have yet to tell us who won the ticket to the presidency, Morgan Tsvangirai or Robert Mugabe.

Of course, Mugabe has no problem accepting that 97 of his Parliamentary and 30 of his Senatorial candidates won fairly. In fact, his ZANUpf party was delighted when SADC and other African election monitors praised him for conducting a "free and fair" election.

Now, faced with the prospect of relinquishing the presidency to Tsvangirai, he has resolved to fight him in a presidential run-off, even though we still do not know how many votes each candidate received. We can assume Mugabe has had a preview of the outcome and now needs to subvert the will of the people: ZANUpf is now asking for a recount of the presidential ballots amid fears they have been tampered with....

To compound the crisis, Mugabe's people are creating conspiracy theories. "There have been widespread reports of white former farmers flocking back into the country," ZANUpf newspaper The Herald said. Mugabe fuelled the rumors by saying: "Land must remain in our hands. The land is ours, it must not be allowed to slip back into the hands of whites." Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa took it further: "The MDC claim they have won and they are unleashing former white farmers on farms occupied by new farmers to reverse the land reform program."

With an entrenched ruling clique, we must fear that, in the event of either a presidential run-off or a re-count, MDC members, sympathizers and exasperated Zimbabweans will take the fight to the streets and, before you know it, we will be in a Kenyan scenario. This will be an excuse for Mugabe to declare a state of emergency and rule by decree until death do us part.

Civil society organizations and parties have so far simply urged citizens to remain calm, while asking the ZEC to complete its legal mandate. Sooner or later they will have to say that they are willing to defend the choice that Zimbabweans made on March 29, 2008.

Fearing civil unrest, the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, representing about 500 civil society groups, has launched a national campaign for peace and respect for the voice of the people. Communities all over the country will be encouraged to conduct various non-violent social actions such as marches, prayer meetings and public meetings. Citizens are asked to wear white ribbons, scarfs and clothes as a sign of support for peace in Zimbabwe.

The 18th of April is Zimbabwe's Day of Independence. It will be an opportunity for all Zimbabweans to speak out in support of peace, freedom and respect for the peoples' will. We still hope we can be free at long last.

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