WHEN the American presidential election result was in doubt, Democratic and Republican party candidates and their army of lawyers, the Florida state and Federal legislatures – everyone – worked flat out to have the matter settled one way
or another quickly as possible. And it was settled within weeks.
In Zimbabwe the opposition challenged the results of the March 2002 presidential election which Robert Mugabe claimed he had won. The opposition claims there was widespread intimidation and vote-rigging, among other irregularities, by Mugabe.
These are serious charges that if proved would mean only one thing – impeachment and a very long jail term. No innocent man would want to have such charges hanging over his head for a day longer than they have to. Yet 15 months later the case is yet to be heard!
The economic meltdown in Zimbabwe is a result of years of mismanagement and rampant corruption by the Mugabe regime. By the late 1990s the regime had abandoned all pretence of doing something to stop the country’s economic decline. Corruption was stepped into overdrive as the ruling party leadership and their cronies fed like vultures on the country’s remains. In despair, the nation hardened its resolve to rid itself of such leaders. And to stay in power, the ruling party became even more repressive – hence the intimidation, vote rigging, etc.
The only notable thing Mugabe has done since March 2002 was seize white-owned farms supposedly to redistribute to landless blacks. The truth is the government did not have the money to build schools, roads and other basic infrastructure to carry out this exercise properly. But surprise, surprise; he claims he has done it.
For 22 years Mugabe had failed to carry out any meaning resettlement when the country was wealthy and had the goodwill of the whole international community. Now, with the country bankrupt, he claims he is able to carry out the task in less than a year! The truth is his party supporters were the main beneficiaries of the so-called “accelerated land reform”. Land was the only resource left for the vultures to feed on.
Mugabe and his ministers knew their actions would disrupt the country’s food production and export crops like tobacco. The result was Zimbabwe, once the bread-basket of the region, now has to rely on food aid. The country has fuel shortages, electricity power cuts, etc because it has no foreign currency to pay for these commodities.
Zimbabwe’s economic situation was terrible in March 2002, now it is worse. The land issue is yet another big mess the people of Zimbabwe will have to sort out. All the people of Zimbabwe want is a chance to do that. No Zimbabwean is under any illusion that Mugabe can do anything else now except muddy the water.
His demands that he be accepted as the legitimate winner of the 2002 election must be dismissed with the contempt they rightly deserve. Mugabe or his protégé’s continued presence or influence in Zimbabwe will only serve to delay the nation from the urgent and painful challenges before it.
The G8 leaders meeting in France next month must stand resolute in their demands for good governance. To underline that message, they must cut all government-to-government aid to the Mugabe regime and they must not put a penny into the New Partnership for Africa’s Development project the continent’s leaders are pushing for. African leaders have repeatedly promised to police themselves on good governance but have done nothing about Mugabe’s tyrannical excesses.