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.