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Old 04-01-2008, 01:42 PM   #1
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Elections in Zimbabwe

I'm not sure if anyone has been following these, but it is certainly of interest to me. I have several friends from Zimbabwe, and the worsening economic and political conditions are of great concern. Inflation is running somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 percent. Basic food stuffs are difficult to obtain and priced beyond the reach of most ordinary people. Unemployment is close to 80%. The ruling strongman Robert Mugabe was up for re-election this weekend and the results have been "delayed" which continues to cast suspicion over the transparency of the voting. BBC is reporting now that talks are under way behind the scenes to negotiate a graceful step-down, but who knows.

BBC has detailed coverage at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/...we/default.stm

An interesting NYTimes opinion piece here
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Old 04-01-2008, 02:13 PM   #2
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You know when I read stories like this from that part of the world it breaks my heart.

100,000% inflation, ppl looking for their next meal or if they're going to wake up the next day.

And then on this side of the world we complain of bad hair days, traffic delays, and are angered by views of the straights and the gays.

What gives?

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Old 04-01-2008, 05:43 PM   #3
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Did ya'll realize inflation could do that? I didn't know that was possible.

I take this personally since Zimbabwe's where I did my Peace Corps service. Here's a blog to follow the latest if you're interested. I'd encourage folks to post on it if you've got a mind to. Africa Action is a great organization working for human rights and social justice throughout the continent.

http://justzimbabwe.wordpress.com/
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Old 04-01-2008, 07:36 PM   #4
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Hope they get rid of that utter vile&evil scumbag! Can't believe the bastard has got away with it for so long!
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Old 04-01-2008, 09:01 PM   #5
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I fear Zimbabwe is going to have what Kenya went through just a couple of months ago. Because I highly doubt Mugabe would give up his power anytime soon.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:38 AM   #6
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Well as it stands the Dictator doesnt even have the funds to bribe his own generals.
As my tutor said today, being a dicator is hardly a good retirement plan and he will most likely be found dead in his bed.
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Old 04-02-2008, 02:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Zimbabwe State-Run Paper Predicts a Run-Off

By BARRY BEARAK
New York Times, April 3, 2008


HARARE, Zimbabwe -- The main opposition officially claimed victory Wednesday in the presidential election and urged President Robert G. Mugabe to concede, saying its tally showed the challenger Morgan Tsvangirai had won a slim majority. But the country’s state-run newspaper, in the first official acknowledgment that Mr. Mugabe had not won the election in the country he has led for 28 years, said no candidate received more than 50% and that it expected a runoff vote.

At a news conference, Tendai Biti, general secretary of the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, said his side won 50.3% of the presidential vote on Saturday. It said the final tally was totaled from votes posted at each polling station; party workers took photos of every result and computed the sum.

Four days after the election, the country’s election commission had still not released any of its own results from the presidential election. Mr. Biti urged the election commission to publish results swiftly. “There is a vacuum and in a vacuum all sorts of mischief fills in,” he said. The Herald newspaper, published by the government and considered a mouthpiece of Mr. Mugabe, published no actual election results from Saturday’s vote and attributed its conclusion of an expected runoff to analysts. But the newspaper report is likely to be perceived as a decision by Mr. Mugabe and his key aides to continue his fight to hold on to the presidency rather than yield it to the challenger, Mr. Tsvangirai, the MDC leader.

Mr. Biti said his party would contest a runoff—and win—if the results gave his party less than 50%, and the government organized a second round of voting. But he said his party would win the runoff and “humiliate” Mugabe. “We will accept with protests but it is only a delay of the inevitable,” he said.

Earlier this week, with unofficial results showing Mr. Mugabe behind, close advisers to the president were split about whether he should concede or force a second vote, according to a Western diplomat with knowledge of the talks. Members of Mr. Mugabe’s inner circle were said to be in talks with Mr. Tsvangirai. A Zimbabwean businessman with close links to the ruling party, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the nation’s military and intelligence chiefs discussed several options with the president after the vote appeared to go badly. These included the outright rigging of the election, going to a runoff and even the “elimination” of Mr. Tsvangirai. Mr. Mugabe was even willing to step down, the businessman said, but some of his advisers thought a runoff could be won if the government used every effort to get more votes from rural areas where the president has traditionally been strongest. By law, if no candidate gets more than 50% of the ballots, a second round of voting must take place within 21 days between the two top candidates. That interregnum, if it occurs, could allow the ruling party to use some of the same violent tactics it has used in the past against the opposition, tactics rarely employed in the most recent vote. On the other hand, the three-week campaign could allow for further talks that might pave the way for the 84-year-old president to make a graceful exit.

The only announcements the election commission has made in the last four days are about seats for Parliament. The Herald said that “the two parties were likely to win between 96 and 99 House of Assembly seats each.” There are 210 Parliament seats. This policy of the posting of results was negotiated between the parties this past year and was meant to prevent rigging. Mr. Tsvangirai has charged that the 2002 election was stolen from him, something that many independent observers agree with.

Based on more than half the votes it had counted, the MDC earlier this week claimed that it was ahead in the presidential race by a margin of 60% to 30%. A projection based on a random sample of polling stations by an independent civic group—the Zimbabwe Election Support network—predicted that Mr. Tsvangirai would get about 49.4% of the vote and Mr. Mugabe 41.8%.

The delay in publishing the results has brought international criticism. In Romania, where President Bush is attending a meeting of NATO leaders, a White House spokesman said Wednesday the administration supported calls for Mr. Mugabe to accept the results of the election, suggesting that he should step aside, though stopping on calling on him to do so. "It’s clear the people of Zimbabwe have voted for change," the spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe, said.

A runoff would place the independent candidate Simba Makoni in a pivotal role. His vote was expected to be in the range of 8 to 10%. Mr. Makoni, the nation’s former finance minister, broke with the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, in order to run against his former boss. His criticisms of Mr. Mugabe grew increasingly harsh as the campaign went on.

According to a Western diplomat, Mr. Mugabe was at first reluctant to agree to a runoff. He is one of the world’s most enduring political leaders. He reportedly considered a runoff to be humiliation, the diplomat said. A resignation by Mr. Mugabe would have been a stunning turnabout in a country where he has been accused of consistently manipulating election results to maintain his 28-year lock on power.

Mr. Mugabe has not been seen in public since the election. Neither had Mr. Tsvangirai until Tuesday evening when he spoke to reporters and diplomats at a Harare hotel, sounding certain he had won the presidency and striving to seem presidential. “For years, we have traveled a journey of hunger, pain, torture and brutality,” he said. Today we face a new challenge of governing and rehabilitating our beloved country, the challenge of giving birth to a new Zimbabwe founded on restoration not retribution, on love not war.” [Tsvangirai] denied rampant reports that he or his advisers were in talks with the ruling party about a transition of power. He said he “would not enter into any deal” before the votes were officially announced.

Many Zimbabweans have known no other leader except Mr. Mugabe. He was a hero of the nation’s independence struggle against white minority rule, and he was hailed during his early years in power for policies of racial conciliation and the health and education advances he had brought to those denied them under colonial rule. But Mr. Mugabe has also been a ruthless autocrat who has unleashed campaigns of murder and terror against his opponents, analysts and critics contend. In 2000, he ordered the takeover of white-owned farms, a decision that cast Zimbabwe into an economic free fall that seems to have no end. Inflation now runs at 100,000%. About a quarter of the population has fled. Most of those remaining behind are unemployed. Zimbabwe is a paradigm of destitution. “People are dying for change,” said Mark Tichagarika, a driver in Harare. “Everyone is talking about the election, at work, in the bus queues, in the shops. When will we finally get a change?” He considered his own question. “Only the old man knows.”

It is unclear how Zimbabweans would react to news of a runoff, if that turns out to be the result of the official vote count. Certainly in Harare, where the president is unpopular, such news would seem the precursor to another stolen election. On Wednesday, parts of the capital were littered with white leaflets saying “Morgan Tsvangirai is our new president!! Freedom at last!” The leaflet said, “The thieves are working overtime to steal our votes,” adding “Stay on the streets and get ready for JAMBANJA,” the Shona word for violence.
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Old 04-02-2008, 03:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by sulawesigirl4
Basic food stuffs are difficult to obtain and priced beyond the reach of most ordinary people.
Bit of a digression here, but...obviously in Zimbabwe's case, there are wholly internal agricultural problems contributing to this, big-time. But, as we've doubtless all read, food prices are soaring all over the world at the moment, and as usual when that happens, the world's poorest regions--sub-Saharan Africa being the poorest of all--suffer the most. The Indian government has just responded to the crisis by banning exports of all rice types except basmati (a fine 'premium' rice), and even basmati export prices are being jacked up in an attempt to discourage exports. Since this will (hopefully) help protect millions of Indians from starvation, it's an entirely understandable action. But unfortunately, India is also the world's second-largest rice exporter, so this action will likely make happen to international rice prices what's already happened to those for corn and wheat, further worsening the problem.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:41 PM   #9
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I've been following this as much as I can. It is hard to believe that for 28 years he has been a terror to his own people.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by JCOSTER
I've been following this as much as I can. It is hard to believe that for 28 years he has been a terror to his own people.
He's an absolute fucker, and a little man for the way he's treated his people; the corruption, human rights violations...all done under the masquarde of how he's been "bettering the country."

The sad thing now is how he appears to be clinging on to power, even in the midst of a widely-spread consensus that he's lost the election. Just yesterday, people were euphoric and applauding these results in the streets, claiming it to be the "Happy New Year" and a "new beginning." Instead of exiting quietly and with character, Mugabe counters the victory by attacking the opposition's headquarters. Unfortunately, as the New York Times article yolland posted suggests, the conditions are now perfect for increased violence if people become outraged and Mugabe grasps ever harder to hold on.

It's too bad for George Bush that Zimbabwe's human rights violations outnumber its oil reserves. Mugabe should be right in the middle of anyone's axis of evil.
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