I expect to have several posts up shortly speaking on developments in Zimbabwe. One will be a conversation with a Zimbabwean gender rights activist currently based in DC and I plan to depart from my typical Africa in DC lens to examine the election results in a rural constituency that I have visited several times and which has traditionally been a bastion of support for Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF.
In the meanwhile, please read my analysis of a piece on Zimbabwean political developments in the early 1980s, I think it offers some important context for events today.
I’ll leave you with one personal observation. I was very distressed by recent comments I heard from Shannon Smith, a high ranking official in the Bureau of African Affairs on American willingness to engage with Mugabe and ZANU – PF. Consequently, I have been pleasantly surprised by the relatively strong comments from the State Department on the election (‘the culmination of a deeply flawed process’), which goes far beyond the appeasing comments uttered by Smith, who sounded like she was trying to win a stake in a Zimbabwean diamond mine.
Until the State Department statement, it seemed as if Mugabe was on the cusp of pulling a Myanmar-esque renaissance, perhaps if he hadn’t been so greedy as to decimate the MDC presence in parliament, the election may have been more ‘credible’. It begs the question however – where was the USG in the midst of this deeply flawed process?
‘where was the USG in the midst of this deeply flawed process?’… they were banned from the process, no? Don’t believe election observers from US/EU were allowed to monitor the process or the day. Chinese were, however…though I’m yet to see a piece describing the Chinese take on the ‘elections’
Folu, I’m not merely speaking of election day. The US constantly deferred to SADC on various matters pertaining to the elections, tentatively and weakly supported a measly 2 week delay after ZANU-PF scheduled them as soon as possible, and sent Andrew Young to meet with Mugabe shortly before the elections.
If the US is going to give its opinion on Zimbabwe’s elections now, it seems rather late in the game. Given the sanctions and rhetoric in 2008, it was mystifying to me why the US was so quite this time around.
I agree. I found it suspicious that all parties including the MDC (relatively speaking) were quiet. Perhaps some wishful thinking? I expected nothing less than what occurred; in fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the relative peace under which the elections were conducted. But given the speed with which the elections were planned and conducted, the raping of government coffers (already pretty bare) to make the elections happen and Mugabe’s/Zanu-PF’s detest of shared power under the unity government, I would’ve expected either a larger protest by the opposition leading up to the elections or even a boycott of the elections.
I actually have no trust in the opposition, but what’s suspicious is the silence of the Zimbabwean people. Could it be that they collectively are not as opposed to Mugabe and Zanu-PF as we think? Or have they been scared into silence due to the violence and intimidation that took place in 2008?
I agree as well. The MDC should know that there is little reason to suspect that SADC would have supported them. The unilateral declaration of the election date, the failure to release the voter’s roll, were all violations of the GPA. The MDC’s should never have participated in light of those failures to meet the prerequisites laid out by the GPA.
While it is certainly possible that the MDC lost support and the ZANU-PF was able to use diamond revenues to support their campaign, I fail to see how ZANU-PF could have increased their vote total by roughly a million over 2008. The MDC got only about 15k less votes than in the first round of 2008. Why all these new voters this time?
With events in Egypt, one would certainly think that more than ever before, Zimbabweans would weigh the protest options available to them.