The top US diplomat for Africa has started off a visit to Southern African countries declaring that Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won a clear-cut victory over incumbent Robert Mugabe on March 29. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer made the comments to reporters in South Africa at the start of consultations on Zimbabwe with neighboring countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Zimbabwe-born Ken Mufuka, a history professor at South Carolina’s Lander University, also writes for Zimbabwe’s Financial Gazette newspaper. He says that Secretary Frazer and the United States are making the right call in boosting Mr. Tsvangirai and bringing international pressure to resolve Zimbabwe’s post-election presidential crisis.
“It is their role to do that because the SADC countries are not going to solve that problem without external pressures from the United States and from Britain. Even if there was a political solution in Zimbabwe, economic help is very much needed, and only the United States and Great Britain have the capacity to do those things,” he noted.
US resident Mufuka, who claims affiliation with Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) confirms Frazer’s contention that Morgan Tsvangirai won an outright victory with something like 58 percent of the votes on March 29.
“Under the new SADC rules, all the voting lists are posted outside the stations. I’m a member of the MDC, and I’ve been sent lots of information. And the MDC took pictures of these postings. So it was quite clear early on that the MDC had taken in that much support,” he said.
Although Mufuka says it’s essential for Washington to weigh in heavily on Harare during Secretary Frazer’s current swing through the region, he admits there are some downsides.
“That is problematic, because in 2002, there is a secret protocol among the SADC countries to their idea that ‘we don’t want American interference in Southern African affairs,’ something like the Monroe Doctrine (an 1823 US expression of disfavor with foreign intervention). At that time, Mr. Mugabe started kicking away the white farmers. So this will further inflame those who think that the opposition movement is being financed by foreign powers,” he said.
Reacting to yesterday’s call for a Zimbabwe economic boycott by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and African National Congress President Jacob Zuma’s appeal for Zimbawe’s election commission to release results of the vote, Mufuka says that Secretary Frazer’s role in the region will make a difference.
“Not with the government of Zimbabwe. But it may make a difference with the government of South Africa and the SADC countries if they withdraw their support. This is why the United States must keep on pressuring those countries around,” he explains.
Citing the delay of more than three weeks that the Mugabe government has failed to issue election results, Ken Mufuka says it is hard to predict the fallout when Zimbabwe’s electoral commission announces the results of the vote recount it is undertaking in several Zimbabwe precincts. But he notes it is most likely that the long delay indicates that the government intends to cheat on the final tabulations.