African Democracy

July 10, 2008

President Mbeki, instead of “quiet diplomacy” try this.

Filed under: Zimbabwe — africandemocrat @ 1:53 pm
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The draft resolution before the United Nations Security Council includes the following text:

The Security Council…

1. Condemns the Government of Zimbabwe’s campaign of violence against
the political opposition and the civilian population, which has resulted in
scores of deaths, thousands of injuries, and displacement of thousands of
civilians, making it impossible for a free and fair election to occur, and
expresses strong concern with the decision of the Government of Zimbabwe to
go forward with the June 27 elections;

2. Demands that the Government of Zimbabwe:

(a) Immediately cease attacks against and intimidation of opposition
members and supporters, including those by non-government agents affiliated
with the ZANU-PF party, and in particular end the abuse of human rights,
including widespread beatings, torture, killings, sexual violence, and
displacement, and release all political prisoners;

(b) Begin without delay a substantive and inclusive political dialogue
between the parties with the aim of arriving at a peaceful solution that
reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people and respects the results of the
March 29 elections;

(c) Accept the good offices offered by the African Union, the Southern
African Development Community, and the Secretary General, giving such
representatives full access to the country, security, and all requested
authority over negotiation processes;

(d) Cooperate fully with investigations of the political violence
experienced by the country between March and June, 2008 and hold accountable
those who have carried out abuses of human rights;

(e) End immediately all restrictions on international humanitarian
assistance and support international aid organizations’ access to all parts
of the country for distribution of food, medical assistance, and other
humanitarian aid;

In case South African President Thabo Mbeki is unsure of what many, if not most South Africans think that he should be telling Mugabe and his Zanu(PF) colleagues, the above text is a fair summary.

It is not South Africa’s place to effect “regime change” in Harare, as Mbeki stated recently.  It is, however, as responsible citizens of Africa, our place to insist that basic human rights are upheld.  It is indeed incumbent upon us to insist that our neighbours obey the principles of the treaties that they have signed, including the SADC and AU rules about democratic elections.

We do not ask for President Mbeki to force Zimbabweans to accept any preconceived notions as to who their leaders should be, but we do expect him to insist that the correct conditions are established in Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans to make that decision for themselves.

Furthermore, we ask President Mbeki to recognise that it is in South Africa’s direct interests to support authentic democratic processes in Africa, especially in our neighbouring states.

July 9, 2008

Restoring democracy in Zimbabwe – MDC’s options

Filed under: Zimbabwe — africandemocrat @ 2:59 pm
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According to an article on hararetribune.com Mugabe’s Zanu(PF) party wants to make a deal with the breakaway MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara and then pass off the result as a de facto Government of National Unity.

While that might suit Mutambara and Zanu(PF), it ignores the reality that the larger MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai won 99 of the 210 seats in the Zimbabwe parliament and Tsvangirai won the most votes in the March 29 presidential election.

Clearly, Tsvangirai’s MDC has the support of a majority of Zimbabwe’s voters.

What are the MDC’s options?

They can choose to flounder around and hope that Zanu(PF) regime collapses soon.  They can hope that a negotiator other than South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki is appointed soon.  They can try to survive for the next ten months or so until a new Parliament and President are sworn in in South Africa.

What does appear to be happening is that Zanu(PF) is quietly going about executing a plan to neutralise MDC as a viable opponent.  It’s not necessary to round up all the MDC elected officials and party leaders and kill them, although some of them will probably be eliminated that way.  All that Zanu(PF) has to do is imprison and harrass MPs so that they are unable to put in an appearance in Parliment for more than 21 days.  That will result in the absent MP being automatically unseated and a by-election held in the vacant constitution.  Zanu(PF) can then concentrate their efforts on winning the by-election.

The indications are that Zanu(PF) wants to ensure that if and when any future elections are held, that the MDC will be a spent force and no threat to the re-election of the incumbent party.

While it is possible that Thabo Mbeki’s intentions are entirely honourable and that he will do his level best to broker an inclusive deal with all the Zimbabwean parties, it’s also possible that his game plan is to drag things out for long enough for Zimbabwe to drop off the radar.  Once Zimbabwe is not longer a front page story, the world’s interest will soon enough dissapate.  Since this is a black versus black issue, the same moral indignation that kept the anti-apartheid activists going just isn’t there.

Perhaps the MDC should learn from the South African experience.  The African National Congress (ANC) was opposed by a hostile and well armed regime in South Africa.  The whites-only National Party did their utmost to wipe out the ANC.  Some were killed by undercover agents of the state, some were imprisoned, tortured, subject to house arrest and some were slapped with banning orders that restricted their rights to travel and attend meetings and the like.  The ANC’s response was to set up a government in exile and to establish and support resistance groups within South Africa’s borders.  The Trade Unions were mobilised against Apartheid and the United Democratic Front (UDF) was launched.  The ANC set up offices in various Western and former Soviet Union countries and mobilised support for their cause.

The ANC and the MDC causes share other similarities.  The ANC sought to bring democracy to South Africa.  The MDC is faced by a ruling party that does not care about the democratic rights of the people and uses elections just to give it a democratic facade.  The ANC fought to bring democratic rights to all South Africans and negotiated a new constitution to facilitate that.  The process followed in South Africa was to set up an interim government, engage in formal negotiations with all parties to draw up a constitution and hold credible, inclusive elections that were monitored by both civil society and foreign observers.

With the ongoing violence being perpetrated on the people of Zimbabwe, and the unlikeliness of South Africa putting meaningful pressure on Mugabe and Zanu(PF) to stop the violence any time soon, perhaps the MDC should consider the ANC model.

That would involve setting up a government in exile.  Lusaka comes to mind as a suitable venue, and Zambia has been one of the few African countries that has declared Mugabe’s presidency to be illegitimate.  They could send delegates to the AU and the UN and set up offices in London, Washington DC, Stockholm, Brussels, The Hague and other strategic cities.  Then they can lobby for support in Africa and the rest of the World and organise resistance to the Zanu(PF) regime both outside of Zimbabwe and within her borders.

Given the intransigence of Mugabe and his allies, the ANC model might be the best option that the MDC has.

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