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USA sanction demands are our own 1990s democratic change demands - if ED cannot deliver free elections, he too must go

There are many Zimbabweans out there who have heard a lot said by Zanu PF members and apologist about the economic sanctions imposed by the West and the economic hardships they have caused to the ordinary Zimbabwean. Two USA Senators on Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on African Affairs, who have just amended the sanctions America imposed on Zimbabwe, have been in Zimbabwe to explain what Zimbabwe must do for the sanctions to be lifted.

It beggars belief why Zanu PF and its apologist have been up in arms demanding the sanctions to be lifted immediately when the conditions being demanded are what every thinking Zimbabwean out there has been calling for decades! Here are some of the USA demands (and comments many Zimbabweans have been saying all along):

 - BVR roll - public release, without cost, in both paper and digital formats of a roll endorsed by all registered political parties

1) BVR exercise was started very, very late; it should have been started in January 2015 at the latest, it finally kicked 14 September 2017. There was no way anyone, even with all the best will in the world, would have given everyone the chance to register in the five months the exercise lasted. In the end ZEC registered 5.3 million out of the 7 million.

2) ZIDERA call on government to allow Zimbabweans in the diaspora to register and to vote from wherever they are outside Zimbabwe. The regime has not even lifted a finger to make that possible. It is estimated that there are 2 to 3 million Zimbabweans in the diaspora.

3) ZEC has not produced the BVR roll for verification and time is running out - again because the BVR registration was very, very late.

4) 2013 elections were held with no verified voters' roll resulting in nearly 1 million registered voters being denied the vote because their details were not in the constituency roll they expected it to be. Zanu PF was able to bus its supporters from one polling station to the next casting multitude votes, etc. All these vote rigging schemes were possible because there was no verified voters' roll. Zanu PF intends to do the same this year. It is almost certain, the next few weeks will confirm, there will be no verified voters' roll.

5) President Mnangagwa was, until October 2017 reshuffle, the minister of Justice, ZEC reported to him, and therefore was aware of the very late BVR exercise and its downstream consequences.  

 - Defence forces - must not campaign for any candidate nor intimidate voters, must be non-partisan, and must verifiably and credibly respect human rights and freedoms of all

1) Zanu PF has already deployed war veterans whose leader is Chris Mutsvangwa, who is also the President's special advisor, backed by ex-security personal like retired Major General Engelbert Rugeje, who is Zanu PF's nation political commissar to start campaign for the party. These people have played a major role in the intimidation, beating, rape and murder of civilians in past elections but especially in the 2008 and 2013 elections. Rugeje is on record telling villagers the same violence will return if they do not vote for Zanu PF in the coming elections.

2) There have been reports of 2 000 to 5 000 soldiers have been deployed to coordinate Zanu PF election campaign. The very close ties between Zanu PF and the security sector is well documented which is why the Police, for example, has turned a blind eye to Zanu PF inspired violence and lawlessness.

3) President Mnangagwa's proposal for all political party meeting to agree on a conduct of conduct to ensure free and fair elections is an insult to all thinking Zimbabweans. The code of conduct would be unnecessary if the Police, ZEC, etc. were free to carry out their statutory duties! With no meaningful democratic reforms in place, the Police, ZEC, etc. will remain in Zanu PF's pocket.   

 - State media - free and full access for candidates, equal time and coverage to all registered parties, in an impartial manner

1) It is deeply regrettable that Zimbabwe has never ever had a free media and freedom of expression. Many people are not following what is happening in the country politically and economically not because it is too complicated or they are too lazy to follow but because they have never been allowed to hear alternative point of views to the Zanu PF propaganda.

2)    Elections about making an informed decision, the only opinion the majority of the rural people know on many big issues such as sanctions, corruption, democratic reforms, free elections, etc. is what Zanu PF want them to know.
 - International observers - must be permitted to monitor the entire electoral process, and enabled to access and analyse tallying, tabulation and transmission and content of voting results.

1)    If the international observers were to make their judgement on the electoral process so far then they will have to come to the same conclusion SADC leaders came to before the 2013 elections - that it is impossible to hold free and fair elections without first implement. "If you go into elections next month, you are going to lose; the elections are done," the warned the MDC opposition. The truth is this year's elections are also "done"!

2)    The observers must declare these flawed and rigged elections null and void and give the people of Zimbabwe a chance to finally implement the reforms so they can have their first ever free, fair and credible elections.   

With unemployment soaring to dizzying height of 90%; ¾ of our people living on UD$1.00 or less a day; millions of our people scattered all over the world, like fallen leaves in the wind, as economic and/or political refugees; etc.; there is no arguing, Zimbabwe is in a serious mess.
We can come up with a long list of why we are in this mess but these will all boil down to one - we have been stuck these last 38 years with an incompetent, corrupt and murderous Zanu PF dictatorship. For the last 20 years, at least, we have made a concerted effort to remove this Zanu Pf regime but have failed again and again because the regime rigged the elections and frustrated our democratic will!
Since the late 1990s the people of Zimbabwe have been united in our call for democratic change. Morgan Tsvangirai and his political friends taped into this public sentiment and named their new political party accordingly. The people risked life and limb to elect them into office on the ticket they would bring about the democratic changes necessary to stop Zanu PF rigging elections and frustrating the people's democratic will.

It is very sad that MDC have had many the golden opportunities, the best during the GNU, to implement the democratic reforms but wasted them all.

There is no arguing Zimbabwe is in a serious mess because we are stuck with a corrupt and incompetent regime. If we want a competent and democratically accountable government then we must implement the democratic changes we called for back in the 1990s. The democratic reforms being demanding by the Americans are restating the changes we have been calling for the last 20 years.

If President Mnangagwa fails to hold free and fair elections this year, then the election must be declared null and void and a separate administration appointed to implement the reforms.

The above conditions demanded by the Americans are clearly meant to force President Mnangagwa and his junta regime to implement the democratic reforms and hold free and fair elections. No thinking Zimbabwean out there would want the sanctions lifted if the regime fails to hold free, fair and credible elections. We are in this mess because for 38 years we have been stuck with this corrupt regime, so why would anyone want the sanctions lifted to encourage the regime to rig yet another election!

All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

Chuka is an experienced certified web developer with an extensive background in computer science and 18+ years in web design &development. His previous experience ranges from redesigning existing website to solving complex technical problems with object-oriented programming. Very experienced with Microsoft SQL Server, PHP and advanced JavaScript. He loves to travel and watch movies.

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