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
August 20, 2019
Elliot Sperber
On the 10-Year Treasury Bonds 
August 19, 2019
John Davis
The Isle of White: a Tale of the Have-Lots Versus the Have-Nots
John O'Kane
Supreme Nihilism: the El Paso Shooter’s Manifesto
Robert Fisk
If Chinese Tanks Take Hong Kong, Who’ll be Surprised?
Ipek S. Burnett
White Terror: Toni Morrison on the Construct of Racism
Arshad Khan
India’s Mangled Economy
Howard Lisnoff
The Proud Boys Take Over the Streets of Portland, Oregon
Steven Krichbaum
Put an End to the Endless War Inflicted Upon Our National Forests
Cal Winslow
A Brief History of Harlan County, USA
Jim Goodman
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is Just Part of a Loathsome Administration
Brian Horejsi
Bears’ Lives Undervalued
Thomas Knapp
Lung Disease Outbreak: First Casualties of the War on Vaping?
Susie Day
Dear Guys Who Got Arrested for Throwing Water on NYPD Cops
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
Kavitha Muralidharan
‘Today We Seek Those Fish in Discovery Channel’
Louis Proyect
The Vanity Cinema of Quentin Tarantino
Bob Scofield
Tit For Tat: Baltimore Takes Another Hit, This Time From Uruguay
Nozomi Hayase
The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All
Ron Jacobs
People’s Music for the Soul
John Feffer
Is America Crazy?
Jonathan Power
Russia and China are Growing Closer Again
John W. Whitehead
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The U.S. Government and Its Police Forces
Justin Vest
ICE: You’re Not Welcome in the South
Jill Richardson
Race is a Social Construct, But It Still Matters
Dean Baker
The NYT Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail