Zim Under Scrutiny at ACP-EU Meeting

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By Catherine Sasman

WINDHOEK

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Zimbabwe, Joy Bimha, has acknowledged that President Robert Mugabe has not won the March 29 presidential election, but added that because there was no clear majority winner for any of the presidential candidates in the race, a run-off would be announced.

Bimha told the ACP-EU [African, Caribbean and Pacific countries – European Union] Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Windhoek yesterday that the delay in the announcement of the presidential result was due to difficulties in recounting of votes, saying that the Zimbabwean government had no control over the situation, as it was in the hands of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

The Zimbabwean Embassy issued a paper at the event, which, among others, argues that it was not the only country where the announcement of election results was delayed, citing the US (which took 37 days before declaring the last presidential election results), the DRC (91 days), Mozambique (18 days), and Nigeria (120 days).

“The [recount] exercise will inform it [the ZEC] on the way it would proceed to handle the matter,” the statement by the embassy said.

The head of the Lesotho delegation, Kabelo Mafuro, said, however, that the 30-day delay in announcing the election results was unacceptable.

Bimha argued that the situation in Zimbabwe should be viewed against a context in which the British government had refused to honour its post-colonial obligations towards the land reform process.

This argument was countered by conservative MP in the UK, Martin Callanan, who said Zimbabwe had been transformed from the “breadbasket to a basket case” over the 28 years of Mugabe’s rule, saying Zimbabwe’s fault lies squarely with the current government.

“The UK would be more than willing to subsidise the land reform programme, which it started but stopped when it became clear that there were no objective criteria, but political criteria, used to redistribute land,” Callanan said.

Robert Goebbels from Luxembourg said the still outstanding presidential election result has become a concern over the citizens of that country, and criticised the Zimbabwean government for not accrediting journalists to freely cover events there.

Koenraad Dillen from Belgium added that Mugabe should accept the original results and resign, to pave the way for a new leader.

Also at the same event, Angolan MPLA MP, Bornito de Sousa, reported that the An Jue Jiang ship had docked at Luanda, but said the ship’s captain had not requested the Angolan authorities to unload the arms cargo destined for Zimbabwe.

De Sousa said cargo meant for the Angolan National Reconstruction Cabinet – which coordinates all main projects in Angola – had been offloaded, as well as cargo for a Japanese company operating in Angola.

He said even if the Zimbabwe arms cargo were to be offloaded, the road and railway infrastructure in Angola would render it impossible for the arms cargo to be transported to that country.

He said the Chinese Government had indicated that the ship was recalled to China.

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