Saturday, April 23, 2005

Greg Elich responds to an article in the Saturday, April 09, 2005, Press Action, 'Zimbabwe's Very American Election', by Gene C. Gerard

[These are some very important comments by Greg Elich on the recent elections in Zimbabwe. The pattern of targeting certain nations, nations that strive for some autonomy from--or even just to limit their dependence on--Western waste capitalist models, is getting tighter and tigher with the choked-down frequency of these socially engineered regime changes, counter-revolutions, really, becoming dizzying. From Iraq to Rwanda to Yugoslavia to Afghanistan to Georgia to Belarusse to Ukraine to Kyrgystan to Zimbabwe, the goal is to introduce Western brokers into the quotidien commercial and financial relations that move the country, and, without altering any basic material relationships, like the sources of power, food, raw materials, or finished goods, merely overlay the entire economic life of the country with a pall of private commissions and transaction fees that eventually suffocates the people and leaves the country in ruins. See Iraq or Serbia for a prime examples. --mc]

The original article and comments can be found at

Part 1:
Mr. Gerard has written some interesting articles for Political Affairs. Here, however, I fear that in his eagerness to make some points about the last U.S. Presidential election, he has fallen into the trap of swallowing the Bush-Blair line on Zimbabwe hook, line and sinker.
Space is limited, so I will just comment on a few assertions. It is not true that the Mugabe government “essentially runs all media outlets in Zimbabwe.” True, the sole television station is state-owned, although private stations from neighboring South Africa can be seen. There are privately-owned radio stations, and privately-owned newspapers outnumber state-owned. With the exception of the Daily Mirror, all of these newspapers are rabidly anti-government and the level of vituperation heaped upon the government in these papers rivals that of privately-owned media in Venezuela.
Election officers were not appointed by the Mugabe government. The five members of the commission were appointed by Parliament, with input from both ZANU-PF and the MDC. President Mugabe was responsible for choosing only the president of the commission.
Zimbabwe fully implemented the SADC electoral standards, and was among the first nations of the region to put these into effect. The new electoral laws were worked out in Parliament, including the adoption of several amendments submitted by the opposition MDC, such as the use of indelible ink.
Ten percent of voters were turned away because they either had failed to bring proper identification or they had reported to the wrong district (presumably many of them later in the day ended up at the proper voting place). Observer teams noted that this problem was due to insufficient efforts at voter education and that it affected both parties equally.
It is not true that Mugabe’s supporters killed hundreds of opponents in the 2002 election. In all, a total of 58 people were killed, and this included both ZANU-PF supporters killing MDC and MDC-supporters killing ZANU-PF. Too many, to be sure, but considerable progress was made at subduing the hotheads on both sides, and by all accounts the election went off peacefully.

Part 2:
International obsevers found the Zimbabwean election to have been free and fair. The MDC loudly complained that vote totals announced in the afternoon did not match the final totals. But then, interim totals could hardly be expected to match final totals. It is important to note that as part of the electoral reforms, both parties had members stationed at each polling place, to act as monitors. The MDC had 4 monitors at each polling site. According to the anti-government New Zimbabwe, “a senior MDC official told this website that the party’s polling agents had checked their figures against the results announced by the ZEC, and the numbers TALLIED.” Despite the lack of evidence, the official was still committed to the view that there had been rigging. “we are clutching at straws, to be honest,” he admitted.
In the view of the MDC, as is the case with the Bush Administration, the only “free and fair” election is one which the neoliberal, privatizing MDC wins. Yet all independent polls taken before the election showed a sharp drop in support for the MDC, and the polls matched very closely the final results of the poll, which by the way, were 78 seats for ZANU-PF and 41 for the MDC, not the totals given in Gerard’s article. It is not by chance that as soon as the first polls came out, weeks before the election, the Bush Administration started screaming “fraud!” Now, how can one cry “fraud” weeks before an election even takes place, unless it is to plant that conviction in the minds of the Western public? Alas, the technique works all too well.
International observers found the election to be “free and fair.” The SADC mission noted, “In a number of situations, they (MDC) did not bring evidence to back their complaints.” The South African team reported, “With regard to the alleged use of food distribution as a political tool, the mission was unable to verify the truthfulness of same, where follow-ups were made.”

Part 3:
As so often in the past, where a nation has been marked by the U.S. for “regime change,” the public is fed a steady diet of disinformation and deliberately distorted information, all designed to win public support for the campaign to topple the goverment. Zimbabwe is no different. It is not by chance that ruinous sanctions have been imposed on Zimbabwe. The Bush Administration fears that a successful Zimbabwe would set a precedent that could lead to a second African revolution. Having already won formal indepedence, for the most part Africa has still to win economic and political independence from Western domination. A Zimbabwe which says no to Western power, which maintains a mixed economy in which the state-owned sector plays a major role cannot be allowed to succeed. Moreover, having implemented a land reform process which has reversed the obscene ownership patterns inherited from apartheid Rhodesia, Zimbabwe has already proved an inspiration to many in Africa. Far preferable, from the Bush Admininstration’s standpoint, to install in power the MDC, a party which has already shown it knows how to take orders from its masters, and which has promised to implement a rapid and complete privatization program and to pass laws offering advantageous terms for Western corporate investors.
Huge issues are at stake, but alas, far too often, the Western left falls for the red herrings tossed by U.S. leaders.


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