News / Africa

Africa, West At Odds Over Disputed Zimbabwe Election

Voters look at posted results for Zimbabwe's national elections outside of a polling station in Harare August 1, 2013.
Voters look at posted results for Zimbabwe's national elections outside of a polling station in Harare August 1, 2013.
Reuters
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma on Sunday congratulated Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe on his re-election, in sharp contrast to Western governments which questioned the credibility of a rushed, disputed vote.

African monitors broadly approved the conduct of the election but Mugabe's main rival, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, has said he will challenge the results in court with evidence of massive vote-rigging, irregularities and intimidation.

The sharply divergent views of Wednesday's vote surfaced after Zimbabwe's election officials declared a landslide win for Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party, giving Africa's oldest president five more years at the helm of a nation he has ruled for 33.

The standoff raises some fears the southern African nation risks repeating the turmoil that followed another contested vote in 2008. Election violence then forced Zimbabwe's neighbors to broker a shaky unity government between ZANU-PF and the MDC.

But Sunday's “profound congratulations” extended to Mugabe by Zuma, leader of Africa's economic powerhouse, reflected a willingness by the continent's diplomatic bodies to swallow the re-election of Mugabe, 89, for the sake of regional stability.

Controversial figure

Mugabe, one of the grand old men of southern Africa's liberation fight that ended white minority rule, is admired as a defiant nationalist by some Africans, though others share the West's view of him as a ruthless despot who wrecked Zimbabwe.

“President Zuma urges all political parties in Zimbabwe to accept the outcome of the elections, as election observers reported it to be an expression of the will of the people,” the South African leader said in his statement.

Zimbabwe's capital Harare was calm on Sunday, with many residents going to church. Newspaper billboards proclaimed “ZANU-PF gloats over victory”, “Mugabe romps to victory” and “Tsvangirai disputes election results”.

Western observers were barred from Wednesday's elections.

Monitors from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who observed them made a point of stressing that they were peaceful, in contrast to the violence of 2008 polls, and also endorsed them as broadly free.

In contrast, the United States and European governments, which have sanctions in place against Mugabe over past election-rigging, listed a litany of alleged flaws in the vote, from lack of availability of the voters' roll to pro-Mugabe bias in the media and security services that skewed the election run-up.

In Zimbabwe, independent domestic monitors had described the election as “seriously compromised” by registration problems that may have disenfranchised up to a million people.

Anti-corruption watchdog Global Witness, citing links between mining companies, ZANU-PF insiders and Zimbabwe's pro-Mugabe military, has also alleged that state diamond revenues may have been spent on securing the Mugabe re-election.

ZANU-PF has angrily rejected all vote-rigging allegations.

West skeptical

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spelled out Washington's distrust of the result in no uncertain terms.

“Make no mistake: in light of substantial electoral irregularities reported by domestic and regional observers, the United States does not believe that the results announced ... represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people,” he said in a strongly worded statement on Saturday.

Former colonial power Britain expressed “grave concerns.” Foreign Secretary William Hague said the reported irregularities “call into serious question the credibility of the election.”

The 28-nation European Union has also pointed to “identified weaknesses in the electoral process and a lack of transparency,” completing a picture of general Western skepticism.

It remained to be seen how energetically the West, with little public appetite at home for overseas interventions and facing muscular Chinese trade and investment rivaly in Africa, would press its questioning against the apparent African endorsement of the vote as imperfect but acceptable.

China is already a significant investor in Zimbabwe, which has rich reserves of chromium, platinum, coal and diamonds.

Mugabe had defiantly ignored a request by SADC in June to delay the election beyond July 31 to allow more time for steps to create a “conducive environment” for a free and fair vote.

At issue now will be the future of the Western sanctions against Mugabe and Zimbabwe, where the economy is still struggling to recover from a decade of slump and hyperinflation that ended in 2009 when the Zimbabwe dollar was scrapped.

Conflict unlikely

Trevor Maisiri, senior analyst for southern Africa of the International Crisis Group, said the priority of the African Union and its regional satellites like SADC was avoiding conflict and civil strife. This often took preference over technical perfection in electoral processes.

“I don't think there is going to be any major social unrest. Some people are disappointed but they have already gone back to their lives,” he told Reuters by telephone in Harare.

The MDC, facing political annihilation after its third failure to oust Mugabe through the ballot box, has said it could consider challenging Mugabe's win through street protests.

But this could trigger a crackdown from pro-Mugabe security services, militias and supporters. In the 2008 electoral violence, 200 MDC followers were killed in such a crackdown.

In Harare, after the tense, rushed weeks of electioneering, many seemed anxious to get on with their daily lives.

“The elections have come and gone, and people have different opinions about the outcome but we still need to pray for our welfare, for national peace,” said one woman as she went into a service at the main Anglican Cathedral in the city.

“Politics is important, but it's not everything,” she added, declining to give her name.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: chihobori from: zimbabwe
August 06, 2013 5:13 PM
please leave us alone, why dont you just stop meddling with the elections, how much of rigging will it need for mugabe to win with such a margin..... whats your problem? Leave us alone!!!!!!!!! we love mugabe and we will vote for him until he drops and dies! All you want is juicy news, liars liars! When will you come out of your sleep. tell you what, we can live without the west. our hope is not in the West, watch and see


by: John Achem from: Vandykia, Nigeria
August 04, 2013 10:27 AM
One wonder at the way the "wester" thrive on meddling on other people's affairs. The AU and SADR said election good. Why dispute. Did Africa ever meddle in US, UK, Australia and the host's kind of 'democracy'. Leave us alone and redress yourselves for peace to reign in the world please. Or do you want war in Zim.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid