Why Mugabe Should Quit

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[Elections 2008]


I have been watching and scratching my head to understand what is going on with Mr. Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, and the just concluded elections in the country. As we continue to wait for the presidential election results to be announced, there are those of us who are quick, especially the Western media, to demonize Robert Mugabe. I must from the on-set confess that I have been one of his critics, at times harsh, due to what I saw as his autocratic ways. This analysis requires objectivity, devoid of the cacophony of criticism that are emanating from duplicitous Western leaders and their surrogate media.

In fact, while we are on the topic of elections, I feel like exploding with anger, when I hear the U.S. State Department or any of the Bush administration officials making any comments regarding election malfeasance in any part of the world, let alone Africa. The arrogance of thinking that we have forgotten what happened in the 2000 U.S. presidential election, and how long it took to finally get the results, after George W. Bush ran to his father's conservative-packed Supreme Court to declare him the winner, disqualifying the man with the largest amount of votes, Al Gore. A day-light robbery, by any name. It shouldn't therefore come as a surprise that the results are trickling in from Zimbabwe, so what!

What we should be looking at is what Mugabe has done before, during, and after the elections. First, he banned the so-called Western observers from coming to monitor the elections, leading to the misconception advanced by the western media that Mugabe had already put in place the apparatus to have himself declared president, by whatever means he thought fit. I myself was of the same opinion and have blasted him many times on my radio program, "StraightTalk with Chika Onyeani on the AllAfricaRadion",

www.allafricaradio.com. Secondly, the opposition has kept up a barrage of publicity easily co-opted by those in the press, that had given the impression about the impending elections that would not be free and fair, and would be stolen by Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party. Of course, the opposition had cause to cry wolf, as we have witnessed the severe beatings of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC, the denial of access to the government-controlled media as well as the constant raids of opposition offices, as well as the threat against the former Finance Minister Simba Makoni, for leaving the ZANU-PF and have the audacity to run against Mugabe. Then, most importantly, the openly public threat of the security chiefs to deny power to any "puppet" who might dare to win the election other than Mugabe.

First of all, Mr. Makoni was not beaten, though there threats from some veterans, and was allowed to contest the election. Mr. Tsvangirai's party moved around freely and had other means of reaching the electorate, of which the government looked the other way.

But it is the transparency and the fairness of the election that I want to address here. In doing so, I am more than cognizant of what happened in Nigeria, and what happened and happening in Kenya. In Nigeria, the Chairman of the so-called Independent Nigerian Electoral Commission, Dr. Iwu, announced results that had no bearing to the votes cast by the electorate. He conjured a number of over 26 million votes and assigned it to the "winner." In Kenya, incumbent President Kibaki forced the Kenya Electoral Commission to announce him the winner, and surreptitiously had himself sworn in in the middle of the night as a "winner."

Okay, given that it is already six days since the elections were held, and the results should have been announced, nevertheless let's look at what is at play here. We have come to understand the dynamics and the air-tight apparatus that Mugabe had instituted to ensure a free and fair election. At each polling station, voters voted, the votes were counted in front of all parties involved, and the results were announced and the actual number of votes for each candidate posted outside the polling station. In this manner, nobody could say that the election was being manipulated. All parties had the same results and could convey them to their respective party headquarters.

Praise must be given to the Zimbabwe Electoral.Commission for having the backbone and the independence to do what their Nigeria and Kenyan counterparts didn't have the audacity to do. Whatever might be said about the delay in announcing the votes for the presidency, the Electoral Commission deserves the applause of the world. It has executed its duties in a very transparent manner, given the assumptions about Mugabe and Zimbabwe that we have been fed to believe.

We now know that the opposition, MDC, has ousted Mugabe's ZANU-PF as the party with the majority vote in parliament, having won 99 to ZANU-PF's 97 votes. Combined with the breakaway faction of the MDC, and an independent candidate, the opposition has 107 seats, thereby giving it control of the parliament. However, it stands to speculation as to whether the breakaway MDC is willing to work with the Tsvangirai-led MDC, or whether it would work with ZANU-PF. We have to understand the ego of African politician, we must always be the chief and not the little man.

I am reluctant to utter a blasphemy and say that Mugabe should be applauded because there are so many unpredictable unknowns that could further tarnish the relative peaceful atmosphere he has shown not only of himself, but of the country. I am inclined to believe that he has changed a lot of the misconceptions I have of him. It has become an axiom of faith that once in a man's life, he reflects and tries to do the right thing. As we have seen, I believe Mugabe has made peace with himself with what fate has in stock for him. My prayer is that he would go the last mile and do the right thing: call it quits!!





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