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Silence of the lambs: Statement on United Nations Day of Democracy
Voice for Democracy
September 15, 2010
He is brimming
with confidence. President Robert Mugabe, Commander-in-Chief and
the Head of State and Government, will not be moved by plaintive
cries that conditions for free and fair elections are essentially
non-existent. Ready or not: when he says there will be elections
- elections there will be! Yet a recent survey of voting intentions
shows his main opponent, the MDC, winning by a wide margin.
What could possibly account
for the President's confidence? Well, about a quarter of those
interviewed during the survey refused to disclose their voting intentions.
By some coincidence, they came mostly from areas with a history
of violence in the run-up to previous elections. If they could be
persuaded to vote for the aging President - who has brought
them nothing by fear, misery and poverty - his confidence
might be justified.
the trick in June 2008, so why discard a winning strategy? In most
areas where violence was endemic during the last election, some
bases were reactivated during the COPAC outreach programme. Only
the odd voices in these areas - under the watchful gaze of
the President's supporters - could be heard repeating
the mantra: 'Kariba
Draft'. The rest sat in stony silence - and fear.
After the initial
indignation of having lost the March 2008 election, the President
now has everything firmly back under his control: a free hand to
make virtually all appointments, command over the entire state security
apparatus, and the backing of most SADC leaders. He has even suborned
the Prime Minister and the MDC. While the President refuses to fulfil
his obligations under the GPA,
the Prime Minister dutifully calls for the lifting of 'sanctions'.
While the President mocks the rulings of the region's highest
court, the SADC Tribunal, the Prime Minister and his MDC ministers
keep a shameful silence. Even while the President continues to intimidate
and arrest his opponents, including members of the MDC, Home Affairs
Minister Makone assures the public that the police have 'turned
over a new leaf'.
The President is confident
because he can so easily distract his opponents from the core issue
in the forthcoming elections: the imperative of guaranteeing violence-free
The Voice for Democracy's
message on this UN Day of Democracy is that peace is a fundamental
condition for democracy. It is peace that allows candidates to campaign
freely and for voters to cast their ballots - free of intimidation
or violence - for the candidate of their choice. It is only
through peaceful elections that the will of the people can be expressed
as the sole source of a government's legitimacy.
The equation is simple.
We need violent-free elections to usher in democracy, and we need
democracy to bring justice and economic development to Zimbabwe.
The Voice for Democracy therefore makes an urgent appeal to the
President, the Prime Minister, SADC leaders, civil society, and
the international community to make a binding commitment to peace,
to refocus their energies, and to immediately start putting in place
those structures and procedures that will guarantee violence-free
and fair elections.
yearn for a peaceful and democratic transfer of power so that they
may all live in hope, dignity and freedom. We must not fail them.
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