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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Election eve diplomatic aide-mémoire
Rights NGO Forum
There is speculation
on how the international community will react should Mugabe win
and SADC declares the victory credible. For instance, is the international
community going to speak with one voice or are we likely to witness
diffusive reactions? Another interesting problem arises from the
recent statement by the EU Ambassador to South Africa Roeland van
de Geer that, "If the elections are internationally recognised,
we will simply do what we have to do and lift our restrictive measures."
Does the lifting of restrictive measures amount to re-engagement?
Assuming that the EU lifts the remaining sanctions is the USA likely
to follow suit and if so, are we going to see cordial relations
between President Mugabe and the superpowers? If they welcome back
Mugabe, what signal does this send to the world and suffering Zimbabweans?
If indeed Mugabe secures a majority win, how about minorities’
rights, which were violated? If the EU were to ignore SADC decision,
how is this going to play up? One would imagine that these are some
of the questions racing through the minds of policy advisors on
Zimbabwe, within the western foreign offices as we speak.
In our respectful
view, the basis for any future engagements should not be the election
per se but human rights record. In addressing the issue of re-engagement,
the individual governments and their collective regional bodies
should stand guided by their foreign policy on human rights. Here,
we have sampled what some of the western democracies say about human
rights in their foreign policy. The UK Foreign Policy states that,
‘The promotion and protection of human rights is at the heart
of the UK’s foreign policy objectives’. The EU Strategic
Framework on Human Rights and Democracy states, ‘The European
Union is founded on a shared determination to promote peace and
stability and to build a world founded on respect for human rights,
democracy and the rule of law’. These principles underpin
all aspects of the internal and external policies of the European
Union. The USA foreign policy states, ‘The protection of fundamental
human rights was a foundation stone in the establishment of the
United States over 200 years ago. Since then, a central goal of
U.S. foreign policy has been the promotion of respect for human
rights, as embodied in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights’. The Germans say, ‘Protecting
human rights is a cornerstone of German foreign policy’. Last
but not least France also makes human rights a priority of its foreign
policy by stating, ‘France wants to set an example, not to
teach others a lesson but because it’s our history, our message.
Setting an example in promoting fundamental freedoms is our battle
and a matter of honour for us’.
In our view,
while it was noble for the international community to outsource
the assessment of the July
31 elections to the Southern African Development Community,
they cannot outsource the interpretation and implementation of their
own foreign policies. As the French say, ‘Setting an example
in promoting fundamental freedoms is our battle and a matter of
Does the international
community wish to be accused of dishonour if they breach their badge
of honour on 31 July 2013? The world is watching through social
media and other forms of technology. Time has changed since technology
has contributed to rapid information sharing and cross-cultural
dialogues in this digital age. This has contributed to greater transparency
on how governments work as well as enhancing second track diplomacy.
With technology it is now easy for an old lady in Zimbabwe’s
wild west of Mutorashanga to know what’s going on in the world
as her grandchildren might be on Facebook where they are privy to
foreign policy discourse.
does the international community intend to send to this old lady?
Do they want her to think that they will overlook the 2008 cases
of politically motivated murders,
abductions, disappearances, torture and intimidation? Do they
want her to think that they will overlook the on-going human rights
abuses, including the selective application of the law, massive
corruption, recent and current clampdown on civil society and tight
control of electronic media? Do they want the lady to think that
they will tolerate the fact that military still looms large and
constantly threaten that they will not accept any transfer of power
away from Mr Mugabe's party, Zanu-PF? Doesn’t the international
standards on election observation state that, “Genuine democratic
elections are an expression of sovereignty, which belongs to the
people of a country, the free expression of whose will provides
the basis for the authority and legitimacy of government”.
Do they want her to think that the international community do not
care about the massive corruption that has caused her hunger? Lastly
do they want her to think that they are going to accept the manipulation
of institutions, for example the electoral process, especially breach
of sections 21 and 51 of the Electoral
Act and section 155 of the Constitution?
For now, let
us forget the politicians but focus on the old lady. How the international
community want to be judged by her because the old lady and her
grandchildren are the real Zimbabwe. She is the one who looks after
her grandchildren since their parents died of AIDS because the government
couldn’t supply them with ARVs. As the international community
is very honourable, surely we do not think this is the message they
wish to send across. Such a message will not only lower the democratic
threshold but will contradict their foreign policy and render human
rights, upon which a thriving democracy is dependant, otiose. As
we all reflect on this aide memoir, let us think inter-generationally
and imagine what posterity will think. One day can we honestly say
that when our time came we did it right on Zimbabwe?
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