FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

One Zimbabwe or Another

New York City

Is it me or is there a suspicious number of democratic (sic) revolutions (sic) going on these days? And they come in more colors than the Department of Homeland Security terror code. With Zimbabwe being one the nations suddenly on America’s democratic (sic) hit list, my go-to guy is Greg Elich, author of the forthcoming book, “Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem and the Pursuit of Profit.” I asked him (and Jack Straw) for a little context on the recent elections.

Q. Indulge, if you will, in a little roleplay. You’re British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and you’ve condemned the Zimbabwe elections as “seriously flawed.” How were they flawed?

A. As Jack Straw, I’d feel that the clearest indication that the recent elections in Zimbabwe were flawed is the fact that the party I backed, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) fared quite badly. The MDC won a mere 41 seats in parliament, as compared to the ruling ZANU-PF’s 78. Worse yet, this outcome was a marked drop off from the 57 seats the MDC won in the previous parliamentary election in 2000. The signs of decline were there all along, with the MDC losing a majority of by elections in recent years, and polls taken just before the recent election all showed a significant drop in support for the party. Over the past few years, the British and American governments have pumped millions of dollars into the coffers of the MDC and various NGOs operating on behalf of the MDC and Western governments to bring about “regime change.” As Jack Straw, I expect a return on my investment, and the MDC failed to deliver. It couldn’t even pull off a post-election coup against the government.

Q. What does Jack Straw do now that his team has lost?

A. Now, as Foreign Minister, I can’t be too obvious about what it is that I find so disturbing about the election. So I announce that the election did not reflect the will of the people of Zimbabwe when in fact what I really worry about is that the election did not reflect my will. Any election that the party I back loses is by definition flawed. Yet, as Jack Straw, I still harbor hopes that British, U.S. and European Union sanctions and destabilization campaigns will ultimately bring down the government and I warn that the government of Zimbabwe is “fragile” and “will collapse sooner rather than later.” That’s the British government’s stance, and indeed, that of the Bush Administration’s as well. Western media have spared no efforts in imparting that viewpoint to their populations, and it is rather remarkable how completely their assertions have gone unexamined. They have their interests. The real question for the rest of us should be how believable and accurate is the information we’re being fed? There’s plenty of room for skepticism.

Q. Speaking as Greg, what’s *your* take on the recent elections?

A. The March 31 Parliamentary election was the first in Zimbabwe since implementation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) election guidelines, which were designed to ensure a fair and transparent election process. Zimbabwe, in fact, is the first nation in the region to modify its legal structure to accommodate the guidelines. Among the provisions adopted was creation of an electoral commission responsible for management of the process, with five members appointed by both parties in Parliament, and its head appointed by the President. All votes were to be counted at polling stations in the presence of agents from both parties and translucent ballot boxes would be utilized. Air time on state television and radio would be given to the opposition party during the election campaign, and the government of Zimbabwe allocated funds to both parties based on the percentage of seats won in the previous parliamentary election. In line with that policy, the government provided $559,000 to the ruling ZANU-PF and $516,00 to the opposition MDC to fund election publicity campaigns. During parliamentary debate on the new electoral laws, several amendments proposed by the MDC were adopted, including the use of indelible ink and extension of voting hours. The government of Zimbabwe had in fact successfully implemented regional election standards well before the election.

Q. Did the Western powers follow a familiar formula in their response to the election results?

A. It is not by chance that the U.S. and British governments started crying “fraud” weeks before the election even took place. All polls showed the MDC would lose the popular vote. The strongly implied message from Anglo-American leaders was that the only fair outcome would be a win by the opposition, planting the seed of doubt in the minds of the public and in effect, preparing the ground for rejection of the election results. The election went as expected, with the ruling party winning 59 percent of the vote, matching very closely what the polls had indicated. Predictably, after the election, accusations of fraud by the MDC and the Bush and Blair Administrations’ grew louder and more persistent. International observers on the ground came to a different conclusion. The SADC mission said that in its view “the elections were conducted in an open, transparent and professional manner,” and voters “were able to express their franchise peacefully, freely and unhindered.” The mission noted that the MDC had approached them with a series of complaints. “In a number of situations, they did not bring evidence to back their complaints. In general we have come to the conclusion that that the election does reflect the will of the people of Zimbabwe. We operate on facts.” In regard to claims of fraud, the mission noted, “Up to now it has not been backed up.”

Q. What about non-Western nations? What about the rest of Africa?

A. Both the South African and the African Union missions concluded that the election reflected the will of the people. The MDC had complained to the South Africans that food distribution was being used as a political tool. The South African mission investigated specific complaints by the MDC but in the end said it “was unable to verify the truthfulness of the same, where follow-ups were made.” The Zimbabwe Council of Churches, which deployed 856 observers, felt that “the elections are an expression of the people’s wishes and our conclusion is that they were free and fair.” This wasn’t the story we were being told by Western media, which instead focused on the MDC’s persistent allegations. Changing vote totals proved fraud, the party asserted. In almost all polling stations, the MDC claimed, final totals had gone up, surely the result of tampering with the vote. The main problem, however, appeared to be the fact that the number of voters given as the election was in process reflected the situation at the moment, and therefore, the final totals would be inevitably be higher. In two constituencies the MDC maintained that totals went down, but offered no evidence to back the claim. In the U.S. and Great Britain, the claims were accepted without examination, and it was widely assumed that the mere assertion of fraud had proven the case. However, the MDC had four monitors assigned to each polling station who were fully involved in the vote-counting process. Due to the implementation of SADC guidelines, each step of the process was audited and a paper trail recorded, and all votes were counted in the presence of observers from both parties. At the end of the process at each polling station, party agents endorsed the final count. Only then could the final result be sent to the registrar. According to the anti-government New Zimbabwe, “a senior MDC official told this website that the party’s polling agents had checked their figures against the results announced by the ZEC, and the numbers tallied.” The MDC official persisted in believing there must have been some sort of fraud, despite a lack of evidence. “We are clutching at straws, to be honest,” he admitted. Under the circumstances, though, fraud seemed impossible. According to SADC observer mission head Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, “The vote-counting process was conducted meticulously and lawfully. It is worth noting that all stakeholders from party agents, monitors, presiding officers and local observers performed their duty as expected and no one could leave the room before the counting was finished.”

Q. Let me ask for a clarification: Are you saying the election was problem-free?

A. No. It was evident that insufficient attention was paid to voter education, leading to a high number of voters being turned away either due to lack of proper identification or for reporting to the wrong voting station. Presumably, some voters were able to rectify their mistakes in time to vote. But even here, the scale of the problem was greatly exaggerated in the Western press where figures like 10 percent or even 25 percent were being bandied about. In fact, the number of voters involved was 4.9 percent. International observers pointed out that the problem affected supporters of both parties equally, and did not influence the outcome. Overall, the election was a success in terms of implementation of SADC election guidelines, ensuring a smooth and transparent process. U.S. and British leaders could only regard the election as a complete failure, however, except in terms of a successful propaganda campaign to discredit the results.

MICKEY Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here. This piece first appeared at World Trust News.  

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 23, 2019
Peter Belmont
The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order
David Schultz
The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice
Geoff Beckman
Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats
Medea Benjamin
Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-supported Coup
Patrick Cockburn
What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring
Jim Goodman
Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements
Lance Olsen
Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too
William Minter
The Coming Ebola Epidemic
Tony McKenna
Stephen King’s IT: a 2019 Retrospective
David Swanson
Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail