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'Free elections are a process not event' - given will, 18/4/1980 event and not 40+ year process

Zimbabwe is facing a very serious social and economic crisis that is now causing untold human suffering and deaths and is threatening the country's stability and that of the whole southern African region. What is disappointing about this crisis is that it is man-made.

Zimbabwe has been stuck for 40 years and counting with a corrupt, incompetent and tyrannical Zanu PF regime. As much as the people have made a determined effort remove the regime from office; they have failed because Mugabe and his cronies have usurped the people's freedoms and rights including the right to a meaningful say in the governance of the country.

Worse still, all efforts to dismantle the de facto one-party, Zanu PF, dictatorship have all fit a brick wall because Zanu PF has insisted in being the one in charge of reforming the dysfunctional system. The party has made a big song and dance for every reforming step it has made; only to quietly take two or three steps backwards. Observe!

"We have taken note of European Union's position with regard to its long-standing sanctions regime against Zimbabwe, and welcome its decision to further ease, albeit only slightly, those measures," wrote Honourable Lt General (Rtd) Dr Sibusiso Moyo, MP (Zimbabwe) Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, as his signed statement proclaimed.

"We view this development as an acknowledgement of progress made in terms of the broad reform agenda we have set ourselves, and to which are fully committed. That reform agenda is a process rather than an event and it will take time to complete.

"We maintain that these and other sanctions measures imposed against Zimbabwe are unjustified and outdated; that they actually hinder our reform trajectory; and that all such measures should be removed - especially at a time when Government is confronted by the daunting consequences of natural disaster and devastating drought"

The sheer stupidity of it all is breath taking! I will just pick three points:

Let is be absolutely clear here that the so called "broad reform agenda" we are being told this Zanu PF government has "set ourselves and to which are fully committed" is the dismantling of the corrupt, tyrannical and omnipresent Zanu PF dictatorship and restoring the individual freedoms and rights. These are the same freedoms and rights the nation fought the biter civil war to secure.

Instead of adopting a political system to guarantee the individual freedoms and rights Zanu PF fought hard to reject the multi-party democracy provisions in the 1979 Lancaster House Constitution. And, as we know, Mugabe had the provisions removed and imposed the de facto one party in the first decade of our independence.

Zanu PF shed the blood of over 20 000 innocent Zimbabweans in the Gukurahundi massacre to force PF Zapu to sign the 1987 Unity Accord, marking the birth of the one-party dictatorship. And since the party has murdered over 10 000 to retain the dictatorship, 24 of them killed in the shoot to kill order to quell protests against the regime since the November 2017 military coup.

The November 2017 military coup removed Robert Mugabe and replaced him with Emmerson Mnangagwa and was heralded as a departure from the dictatorship into a new democratic dispensation. The people were promised free, fair and credible elections; the regime refused to implement even one token reform and went on to blatantly rig the July 2018 elections.

"That reform agenda is a process rather than an event!" the Minister tells us. Zimbabwe could and should have adopted a democratic constitution in which the freedoms and rights of all Zimbabweans including the right to free, fair and credible elections were guaranteed, if the Zanu PF nationalist leaders had wanted to. Zimbabwe's first elections in 1980 and all that followed could and should have been free, fair and credible.
Of course, free and fair elections are an event, Zanu PF wants it to be a process, a long drawn out process that has lasted 40 years and counting, because it suits the party's no regime change dictatorial agenda!

The argument that the regime should be given more time to implement the democratic reforms given the "daunting consequences of natural disaster and devastating drought" underlines the arrogance and lack of sincerity with this regime. What is there in the drought that stopped Zanu PF producing a verified voters' roll, a legal and common sense requirement, for the July 2018 elections!

The EU's own 246 strong Election Observer Mission condemned Zimbabwe's July 2018 elections as a farce. "The electoral commission lacked full independence and appeared to not always act in an impartial manner. The final results as announced by the Electoral Commission contained numerous errors and lacked adequate traceability, transparency and verifiability," stated the Mission's Final Report.

"As such, many aspects of the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe failed to meet international standards," it concluded.

There was absolutely no rational reason why EU rewarded Zanu PF for blatantly rigging the July 2018 elections by removing all those on the targeted sanctions list except Mugabe, his wife and Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI). It is no secret that the EU lifted the sanction under pressure from member countries like Belgium who wanted to restore trading with Zimbabwe especially in diamonds and did not care that the EU was lifting the sanctions at the time when Zanu PF had just taken two giant steps backwards on democratic change.

The November 2017 military coup was heralded as "a military assisted transition" by none other than Lt General Dr Sibusiso Moyo, the coup spokesperson. He, together with fellow coup leaders, Air Marshall Perence Shiri and ZDF commander General Constantino Chiwenga, retired soon after the coup to take up positions as government Ministers and VP for Chiwenga.

Mugabe set up the Joint Operations Command (JOC), a junta comprising the top brass in the Army, Police, CIO and Prison Services, a select few from the party, Zanu PF with himself as the head and Mnangagwa as his assistant. JOC has always been the real power in Zimbabwe and the November 2017 coup has allowed many of its members to step out of the shadows, seize and exercise political power.

The JOC transformed Zanu PF dictatorship of post November 2017 coup rigged the July 2018 elections to consolidate its political hold on power and the very fact that some nations have tacitly endorse the regime as legitimate by ignoring the blatant rigging is a bonus to Zanu PF.

The late Robert Mugabe has blamed all Zimbabwe's economic problems on the "illegal sanctions imposed by the British Imperialists and their western allies". It is now over a year ago since the EU lifted the targeted sanctions on every one except the three named above.

So, other than the USA and two or three other countries that still have targeted sanction on some Zimbabwean individuals and entities; Zimbabwe has been "open for business" with the rest of the world, Mnangagwa's clarion call since taking over from Mugabe. Sadly, the much anticipated economic recovery in the post November 2017 coup has failed to materialised.

Indeed, during the 2008 to 2013 GNU when Zanu PF chaotic and tyrannical excesses were held in check and the country has its best prospect ever of ending the dictatorship, there was a 9% economic growth in 2009, up from negative minus 6% the year before. The sanctions remained in place throughout the GNU - proof that the root causes of the economic meltdown are corruption, mismanagement, pariah state, etc. and not the sanctions.

"To the extent that this latest easing of EU sanctions signals a reciprocal willingness to move forward, it is, of course, a welcome gesture," concluded Minister Moyo.

Zimbabwe is a pariah state ruled by corrupt, incompetent and ruthless thugs who have rigged the elections to stay in power against the democratic wishes of the ordinary Zimbabweans. 40 years of the corrupt and tyrannical rule have left the country in a serious economic mess, unemployment has soared to 90% and millions of Zimbabweans now live in abject poverty. The economic situation in Zimbabwe is unsustainable.

The solution to Zimbabwe's economic mess and political paralysis (the MDC opposition party has failed to end the Zanu PF dictatorship even when it had the golden opportunity to do so during the 2008 GNU) is for Zimbabwe to implement reforms necessary for free, fair and credible elections.

Since Zanu PF will not implement the reforms pressure must now be brought to bear on the regime to step down. Targeted sanctions are an integral part of this pressure; this is not the time for the EU to be easing its sanctions on the Zanu PF regime. The real welcome gesture from the EU is for the block to re-instate the sanctions!

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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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