Zimbabwe at the Crossroads

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ZIMBABWE is on the brink of making another electoral history. Elections in Zimbabwe tomorrow will mark a turning point for that country and the region in more ways than one.

They will redefine Zimbabwe’s future economic stability and could reshape its relations with countries in the West, depending on the outcome.

The elections will also determine the political future of one of Africa’s leading nationalists, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and his national Zanu-PF movement and possibly change the politics of Zimbabwe forever.

On the other hand, former liberation movements such as Swapo in Namibia, the ANC of South Africa, Frelimo in Mozambique and MPLA in Angola, have to take serious note of the combined onslaught on President Mugabe for this may be a harbinger for things to come – subject to them opting for radical transformation that is not compatible with the interests of Western powers.

In the case of Mugabe, radical land policies that have transformed land ownership in Zimbabwe largely caused the spat between him and the West.

Zimbabwe has had to endure targeted sanctions and isolation under the guise of punishment for a poor human rights record and democratic misrule even though countries with worse track records on both scores are friends of the West. Countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and others come to mind. Despite their terrible human rights records and political oppression, these countries are rewarded for being pawns and puppets of the West. They receive money, military hardware and political support from Western countries, including the US and Britain, even though their democracy credentials are zero and have nothing to show for good governance and human rights.

Tomorrow’s elections will provide a revelation on Mugabe’s staying power in particular and that of other former liberation movement leaders.

Clearly, countries in the West led by the United States and Britain do not regard Zimbabwe elections tomorrow as simply an exercise in democracy but an impetus for regime change.

Relations between Mugabe and some of these countries have reached breaking point if not total break down. It is doubtful therefore that the elections will repair such relations. The democratic outcome of tomorrow’s elections is likely to be scoffed at no matter what as long as Mugabe emerges as the winner.

British and other Western officials have long predicted that the elections in Zimbabwe will not be free and fair. Initially, they predicted that the elections would be marred by violence.

To underscore this projection, a reception centre ostensibly for people fleeing violence in Zimbabwe during the elections has been erected at Messina on the South African border with Zimbabwe. The centre has reportedly been set up by a British non-governmental organisation – Save The Children and the South African Catholic Bishops Conference.

How ironic that these institutions would take it upon themselves to set up a base for refugees fleeing ‘chaos and violence’ during the elections in Zimbabwe. What intelligence did the British NGO and its counterpart have and from where?

It is this kind of conduct that gives rise to speculation that the West has its own agenda on Zimbabwe and is not necessarily interested in a democratic outcome in that country.

So far, the election process in Zimbabwe has proceeded smoothly. There have been few incidents of violence and campaigning has gone relatively well. Election observers and monitors have so far expressed confidence in the election process and are generally satisfied with their conduct.

And if anybody thought tomorrow’s elections are about Mugabe and Zanu-PF, they may be in for a shock. The elections may as well turn out to be a referendum on US and British policies on Zimbabwe. We shall wait to see who will have the last laugh after tomorrow.

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