The Guardian March 27, 2002


Zimbabwe: Time to rebuild economy

The people of Zimbabwe made their choice at the recent presidential 
elections and gave President Mugabe a 400,000 vote majority. In his 
inaugural address Mugabe extended an olive branch to the opposition to join 
him in rebuilding the country's economy, which has suffered three 
consecutive years of decline, but did not say in what role.

"Our energy is better spent on reviving the economy than plotting to bring 
down each other", he said

"The call to all of us, whether in the ruling party or in the opposition, 
is that we unite and come together as one people. There are areas where we 
must work together because we have a common destiny", said Mugabe.

However, the virulent attacks on Zimbabwe have continued with incredible 
personal abuse of Robert Mugabe himself as a dictator.

There were widespread and large public election meetings held shown on TV 
and voters were seen peacefully queueing outside polling stations.

That there was some violence on both sides is undoubtedly true and it arose 
from the high tensions and big issues in the elections.

Various teams of election observers came to differing views on whether the 
results were "fair and free". Only those which denounced the election 
result have been given coverage in Australia's media.

The observer team of the Organisation of African Unity (made up of all 
African countries) pronounced the electoral process "transparent, credible, 
free and fair". Observers from South Africa and Nigeria, two leading powers 
in Africa, endorsed the election. Observer teams from Russia and China also 
accepted the election result.

The head of the Norwegian observers, Kare Vollan, on the other hand 
denounced the poll as unfair. Earlier the same Kare Vollan found that 
Ukrainian parliamentary election results were legitimate despite what he 
described at the time as the "violence, intimidation and harassment during 
the run-up to the election". The West wanted the results it got in the 
Ukraine and it did not matter how they had been obtained.

The person who made the unfavourable assessment of the Zimbabwe election on 
behalf of the Commonwealth observer team was Nigeria's Abdulsalam Abubakar 
who was the military dictator of Nigeria from 1998-99.

He is now facing accusations of stealing more than US$2 billion from 
Nigeria's foreign reserves.

General Abubakar was a member of Nigeria's top brass which cancelled 
elections in Nigeria in 1993. The man who eventually won the elections when 
held, died in prison while Abubakar was President.

Where were the outraged Western observers when the Russian parliament was 
shelled to deal with members of parliament opposed to the rule of Presdient 
Yeltsin in 1993?

Where are the screams of outrage at the fact that there is no democracy of 
any sort in Saudi Arabia  but then  Saudi Arabia is on the side of 
imperialism.

Election monitoring has become a political tool, manipulated to serve the 
political and economic aims of Western imperialism. It is routinely 
corrupted by political bias. Western observers in Zimbabwe built up a 
campaign alleging "cheating" and "stealing" the elections even before they 
got there!

Zimbabwe was vilified for long queues at polling stations in Harare. In 
Italy last May the number of polling booths was reduced by 30 per cent. The 
chaos was so severe that the last Italian to cast a vote did so at 5am the 
next morning. But there were no protests on that occasion.

Where were the foreign observers when George Bush stole the Presidential 
elections in the US and was installed by a majority vote of the US Supreme 
Court  not by a majority of votes which went to Al Gore?

The Commonwealth has suspended Zimbabwe's membership for a year and limited 
sanctions have been imposed by the EU. However, the Commonwealth three, 
(Howard, Mbeki (South Africa) and Obasanjo (Nigera) did not impose economic 
sanctions.

The carrot and stick approach is already in evidence as Zimbabwe's 
elections are being presented as a test case for the future of the whole of 
Africa. The implied threat is to suspend aid for development, world trade 
access and debt forgiveness.

In an attempt to strangle Zimbabwe economically there is a strong push to 
make South Africa a vehicle for pro-Western policies in Zimbabwe.

"If Mbeki accepts an unreformed Mugabe as the legitimate ruler in Harare, 
confidence in South Africa will fall further, foreign investors will turn 
away, taking the rand further down", writes the London Guardian 
Weekly (March 21-27)

An then, "If Mbeki does not deal with Zimbabwe, there is another 
possibility: South Africa's trade unions ... they do not need the South 
African government to tell them to delay truck and train drivers heading to 
and from Zimbabwe..." (Ibid)

There is a prolonged, well-managed and well-paid for campaign in support of 
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) despite the fact that its leader, 
Morgan Tsangirai has been caught on camera plotting the assassination of 
Mugabe before the elections. He has now been charged with treason.

Blatant interference into the internal affairs of a sovereign country is 
being conducted under the slogan of "democracy" and has become the normal 
procedure to be used against selected countries that are determined to 
maintain their sovereignty and independence and oppose the new colonialism.

Britain is the leader of the pack in Zimbabwe, with countries like 
Australia and New Zealand earning brownie points as imperialist lackeys.

The union-bashing governments of Britain and Australia have no qualms about 
supporting a general strike in Zimbabwe but would pull out all the media 
stops and put the police and military on the streets to thwart a general 
strike should it be called in Britain or Australia. Morgan Tsvangirai's 
past as a trade union leader is applauded.

However, it is to be noted that the three-day general strike that was to 
take place in Zimbabwe following the elections and called for by the MDC 
had to be called off for lack of support.

This general strike was one of those strongly supported by the Murdoch and 
Packer press in Australia.

Applause, similar to that heaped on Morgan Tsvangirai, was also heaped on 
Lech Walesa of Poland. Walesa succeeded in leading many trade unionists in 
Poland into the destruction of Poland's socialist society.

Walesa came to prominence at the Gdansk shipyard. But a visit to the 
shipyards now would show them to be derelict with the workers sacked. 
Poland has become a happy hunting ground for the big corporations whose 
objective, as elsewhere is to make profits and get out.

Zimbabwe is no different. Mr Mugabe's sin is that his government has 
resisted imperialist domination and no matter what he does or does not do 
he will be blamed. Mr Mugabe is not a saint but he is not the incarnation 
of evil either.

The determination of white settlers to hold onto the land they thieved from 
the black indigenous people in the past is the main issue. It is an issue 
which plauges most African countries and a successful campaign in Zimbabwe 
will undoubtedly spread to other African countries.

South Africa has not dealt with this question yet but when it does, the 
same anti-South African campaign will be launched and whoever happens to 
lead South Africa at the time will also be demonised.

Zimbabwe's elections showed how sensitive these issues are and how much is 
at stake for vested interests.

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