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Zimbabweans Welcome International Pressure on Mugabe

Supporters of Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party have welcomed international pressure on the ruling party to release the rest of the presidential results. The belated support three weeks after the vote comes from the chairman of South Africa’s ruling party Jacob Zuma and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who both demanded the immediate release the tally.

The opposition party’s claim of winning the presidential vote also received a significant boost from an official of the US government, who reportedly said that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was the winner of the March 29 vote. But partisans of the ruling ZANU-PF party describe US backing of the opposition as yet another attempt to re-colonize the country. From Harare, University of Zimbabwe political science professor John Makumbe tells reporter Peter Clottey that Zimbabweans want an end to the economic and political crisis.

“They are liking this because for the first time there seems to be meaningful response from the international community and even from the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region and from the continent of Africa in favor of the people of Zimbabwe, rather than in favor of Robert Mugabe,” Makumbe noted.

He said the international community seems to have come to the realization that the opposition MDC can play a significant role in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis.

“Yes, I think there is a real recognition for the MDC here. But what’s important really is that the various groups seeming to be running onto the side of MDC are really shocked by a situation where elections are run reasonably free and fair and the ruling party or the president of Zimbabwe refuses to release the results. It is unprecedented, except in very awkward situations where results have been delayed unduly,” he said.

Makumbe described as unfortunate the refusal of the electoral commission to release the presidential results three weeks after the general elections.

“In this case they are even likely not to want to disclose the results at all and this is really shocking this region and shocking other political parties that Mugabe can think so low and ZANU-PF can really be so desperate to stay in power to the extent of refusing to release the results. And so everybody is now seeing the many stories that the MDC has been telling about what is going on in Zimbabwe, that is actually a dictatorship,” Makumbe pointed out.

He said pressure by the international community would have an impact on President Mugabe and his hard-line supporters.

“I think so, I think it is really an embarrassment to them, but above all it is really getting them really threatened because one of the consequences of all this international pressure is that it has now gone up to the United Nations Security Council. And there are a lot of voices at the UN Security Council asking that Zimbabwe be placed on the agenda of the UN Security Council and that possibly observers be sent into Zimbabwe if there is a run-off of the presidential election,” he said

Makumbe said civil and non-governmental organizations are demanding that the government respect human rights.

“We are also a civil society pushing for a United Nations human rights repertoire to be sent to Zimbabwe because there is lots of violence going on,” Makumbe said.