Tuesday,October 22,2019 11:33 AM

Lessons on Zimbabwe

By Vision Reporter

Added 15th March 2002 03:00 AM

A comparison of Zimbabwe’s problems in the recent election with ours

THE dispute and events in the Zimbabwe election between the ruling ZANU-PF on the one hand, and the opposition and critics on the other illustrate just how similar contemporary opposition groups in Africa are. They have built a political trademark of over relying on their former colonial masters and imperial interests as their main driving force. Also they often heavily rely on well-orchestrated false propaganda against their incumbents to whip up local emotions and winning external support. Recently a collection of the defeated opposition groups in Uganda wrote to the Commonwealth to suspend aid to Uganda. Uganda's opposition has failed to accept that foreigners can talk and even bully, but that ultimately it will be Ugandans to determine the destiny of this country. The third similarity is to use the purported independent and impartial civil society groups, NGOs and the media to push their partisan political agenda. Alongside the above elements, they are usually the ones who first prop violence, intimidation and blackmail in the hope of attracting a crude hit-back from a non-careful government which falls into the trap. The opposition groups also falsely believe that during election campaigns, laws are put aside and they enjoy legal or political immunity to behave as they see fit. Granted, some of the laws the African statute books may be decadent and dictatorial. But it should bother Africans that former brutal colonial masters such as Britain, France, Belgium and Portugal, should continue to determine our mainstream thinking. Of course, in the case of President Robert Mugabe one can argue that he has had two decades in power to correct the wrongs against blacks on race and land by the British. And for Uganda traumatised by the political nationalisation of the economy by Milton Obote (1969/70) and the 1972 “Economic War” by his stooge Idi Amin, it would be far-fetched to support Mugabe’s recent antics on the plight of the blacks in his country. Yet President Yoweri Museveni took a position in favour of Mugabe at the Commonwealth. All this was in spite of a bad relationship over Congo in which Mugabe intervened to prop up a regime that had been anti-Uganda, harbouring armed rebels now classified as terrorists against Uganda. But even then how come the BBC still manages to get reports it wants the public to believe as credible if the Mugabe government was as brutal as it is depicted! The campaign by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) under Morgan Tsvangirai reminds one of the methods used by Uganda’s opposition during last year's presidential elections. First the opposition and critics convinced themselves that Museveni and his government were thoroughly weak, corrupt, inefficient, dictatorial and discredited by the population. And on this false assumption, the opposition proceeded to over-estimate their own strength, and simultaneously hoped to galvanise support and sympathy from outside. Often these forces are foreign governments using local civil society groups and NGOs. In Uganda, the Movement critics put themselves to so much un-warranted pains to paint the establishment black at all times instead of proposing concrete policy alternatives to the voters. Like in Uganda, Tsvangirai has spent so much time constructing illusions about a rigged election even before the registration of voters and actual polling took place. And in this scheme as Kizza Besigye did last year, Tsvangirai has relied on pseudo analysts in the local and international hate media to show how Mugabe was a spent force. Furthermore, he has put too much faith in foreign forces especially the British government seeking further dominance in the European Union. And he has helped Mugabe to portray him before the Zimbabwean people as a front for foreign interests rather than a patriot. It is surprising that the MDC petitioned the High Court to extend voting in Harare by one day but instead court ruled in favour of the extension of voting throughout the country. Soon after the court ruling Tsvangirai convened a press conference and boasted of victory, yet he was quick to denounce the same court for rejecting his request for a fourth day's extension. According the MDC, the judiciary is only independent when it rules in its favour and not the reverse. Those who were closely following Uganda's presidential campaigns last year may recall the often false and negative propaganda churned out by the local media for international consumption. It should be recalled how the manipulated "opinion polls," rated Besigye against Museveni, and predicting a closely fought re-run to determine who would be president. Yet at the end of it al they could not swallow their shame of a 43 per cent assumed margin of error! To this day and even after the Supreme Court’s decision in favour of Museveni in a petition by Besigye, sections of the media continue to live in their own falsehood. It is also against this background that MPs to set up a parliamentary select committee to probe alleged widespread electoral malpractices.

Lessons on Zimbabwe

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