July 3, 2000
the Blood Bath?
No graphic footage in Africa
feel cheated. There was supposed to be some good TV coming on. Not
actually good, you understand, more addictive. This was the
prospect in Zimbabwe,
of some foreigners acting as, well, foreigners. You get the picture?
First the ruling party intimidates all the electorate, then they
stop them going to the polls, especially in opposition areas and
we see a few gory wounds on TV for tea time. Then we get the breathless
reports of blatant ballot rigging. Then there is the election result
where the opposition gets two seats if they are lucky. The whole
country erupts into a display of "people power" and with a bit of
covert or overt support from the big powers overthrows the crooked
government. We all go to bed in the happy knowledge that once again
justice and good taste have won through. However, that did not happen.
Zimbabwe actually had a peaceful and fair election.
WHAT YOU HEARD?
an amazing fact, Zimbabwe's election was more democratic than most
of the third world "democracies." The communal fighting seen in
South Africa, where the ANC often tries to wipe out significant
opposition, is far worse than Zimbabwe (of course we must blame
Inkatha for daring to oppose the ANC). Kosovo is in the midst of
a brutal power play with various factions of the KLA wiping out
internal dissidence, in the spare time they have from the strenuous
work of clearing out all non-Albanians. India, especially the Bihar
region, always sees intense violence around election times. In the
last election, around a thousand Indians died in the violence.
Compare that to the thirty who died in Zimbabwe. When we remember
the human rights abuses perpetrated by the fifth
brigade in Matabeland, and the lack of protest they attracted,
this makes the sudden interest in Zimbabwe even more bizarre. Every
death is a tragedy but where there are fewer deaths, it is a good
indication that the election was probably freer than before.
British press seemed less keen on reporting the actual result of
the election. This was that the ruling Zanu-PF party scraped a narrow
victory in the direct election, which becomes a bit more substantial
when taking into account those MPs whose appointment, is either
directly decided, or strongly influenced by the president. The result
was accepted as legitimate by the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change. In fact, the only people not prepared to accept this result,
with reservations, was the European Union. Where was the blood bath?
The election was peaceful and had the highest turnout since independence.
Where was the ballot rigging? The opposition piped Zanu to the post,
when some government spokesmen predicted the opposition picking
up three seats. Where was the civil war? The vigorous
free press belies the autocratic image assiduously portrayed
by the, government controlled, British Broadcasting Corporation.
The MDC did so well that many are treating this as a victory
for it, but we do not see the civil war that we were predicting.
IS STILL IMPORTANT
is still in the Congo, mining diamonds.
As long as Zimbabwe is there then there will still be some interest
in the country. Many members of Zanu-PF are looking at either replacing
Mugabe or defecting
to the opposition. If either of those two outcomes happens (and
I think this is unlikely) then the pressure to remove the troops
from the Congo will become overwhelming, as this is a futile war
for most in Zimbabwe. So there is a stay of execution on Zimbabwe,
and the West will allow the White
farms to be taken over. However, if Mugabe stays on and Parliament
stays on side then the pressure to remove Mugabe externally will
increase. There is a plan
to "evacuate" British civilians, which could easily topple Mugabe
as a side issue. The idea that black Africans
can be trusted to pick
their own leaders seems to rest very much on which leaders they
IN THE GEMS
are still critically important, as Peter Hain, the South African
minister in the British Government, said
the face of enormous suffering caused by the diamond-fuelled
wars in Sierra
Leone, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, we have
a duty to ensure that we are doing as much as we can.
those three countries. The West will do as much as they can to keep
monopoly on the road.
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