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Ear to the Ground

Three Different Takes on the Zimbabwean Presidential Battle

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Posted on Apr 18, 2008
Mugabe
AP photo / Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

Still in charge: Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe prepares to give a speech on Friday at the 28th-anniversary celebration of his nation’s independence from the U.K.

Last month’s election in Zimbabwe is yet to be resolved. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai believes he defeated President Robert Mugabe fairly, but a recount and a runoff may happen before the contest is finally decided. Meanwhile, opposition supporters say Mugabe’s party is attacking them as he holds on to power.  Here are three stories from sources with different stakes in the situation.


First, as the BBC reported Friday, Mugabe has made his first fiery speech since the election dispute began.


BBC:

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has denounced the opposition and former colonial power Britain in his first speech since the disputed elections.

“Down with thieves who want to steal our country,” he told crowds marking 28 years of independence.

The outcome of the presidential poll is unclear but the high court has rejected an opposition bid to stop a recount.

Meanwhile, a Chinese ship carrying arms to Zimbabwe is reported to have left South Africa after failing to unload.

Read more


Next, here’s an April 16 report of attacks by the Zanu-PF militia on rural supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). It comes from a self-described independent news source, The Zimbabwean.


The Zimbabwean:

A Zimbabwean human rights group said this week hundreds had fled their homes in the countryside in fear of revenge attacks in the wake of the electoral defeat of Robert Mugabe in the March 29 poll.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe group - comprising labour, human rights and other civic organisations - said it had appealed to the international community for humanitarian assistance to deal with the problem of displaced people.

Most of the people who had fled their homes were supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai is Zimbabwe’s president in waiting.

Mugabe, who is now in effect the civilian leader of the military junta ruling Zimbabwe, has imposed a black out on election results, which has been widely condemned.

‘‘We have a huge problem…displaced farm workers and political displacements. Now that Zanu (PF) is insisting on a run-off they do not feel safe returning to their communities where some of them were polling agents,’’ the Crisis spokesman said.

‘‘About 500 people are known to ahave been displaced and we continue to receive reports from all over the country.’‘

Read more


Finally, here’s an opinion piece by Beatrice Mharapara in Zimbabwe’s government-owned Herald newspaper (April 15 edition):


The Herald via allAfrica.com:

I am so disappointed with Western media coverage of our elections. Western journalists went into Zimbabwe with one objective in mind that President Mugabe loses the elections while Morgan Tsvangirai wins.

The journalists are supposed to be objective and evenhanded but they are reporting only MDC-T activities and interviewing only MDC-T supporters ignoring Zanu-PF supporters. They have not reported one good thing about President Mugabe. If this is what they call democracy, I do not agree with it; I am now going to say my mind and educate them on Zimbabwean politics because they do not know the situation in depth apart from what they hear from the opposition they are supporting.

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By polarbear, April 20, 2008 at 7:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Is Mugabe a tyrant?  Absolutely.  I know this to be true by the things I have read and the Southern Africans (including Zimbabweans) I have spoken to. What complicates matters are:
the military folk who have a great deal to lose (financially) if Mugabe is replaced;
China is providing arms to Mugabe, witness this weekend’s report of a ship carrying Chinese armaments intended for Zimbabwe, pulling in to South Africa.  The dockworkers refused to unload the ship and so the arms could not be transported overland to Z.  Instead the ship continued on to Mozambique in the hopes that they could be transported overland from there.
  Comparing Ian Smith to Robert Mugabe is a useless exercise, diverting attention from the real issues.  Both men are/were bad guys. Meanwhile the country is subjected to a bazillion thousand percent inflation, most have no work have little to eat or drink.  Paramilitaries who don’t like the way someone voted beat up/whip Zimbabweans and burn down their homes.  Meanwhile, the world watches—from a distance.

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By whyzowl1, April 19, 2008 at 4:40 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena,
  Who told you Mugabe was the worst-of-the-worst if not the American Mainstream Propaganda System? And how reliable is anything they say?

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By cyrena, April 19, 2008 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

At that point, I think it’s pretty clear that Mugabe is one of the worst of the worst. Whether Tsvangirai is anything more than a cat’s paw for Western Imperialism is a fair question, because I honestly don’t know.

I DO know that Mugabe is as bad or worse than any combination of the worst of them combined. The only ones he might be on par with are Dick Bush.

So, Mugabe is fully deserving of whatever demonization he gets from the Western or any other media. It’s just that he’s no worse than the ones that demonize him.

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By whyzowl1, April 19, 2008 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment

What’s really going on here? Do any of you know? If you look up “oppressor” in your Funk and Wagnalls the name “Ian Smith” would supercede that of Robert Mugabe by a wide margin. Is Tsvangirai anything more than a cat’s paw for Western imperialism? I smell a rat; a big, fat, neo-colonialist rat. All of the usual elements of Western imperialist domination are in play in Zimbabwe: a grinding, Western sanctions regime, constant demonization of Mugabe and his party in the Western media, overt and covert attempts to destabilize a government that, for all its failings, is of, by, and for the people of Zimbabwe. Whitey is clearly not pleased by what Mugabe hath wrought since he dethroned the colonialist settler regime of Ian Smith. Too bad. The question is, as always, “Whose side are you on?”

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By jatihoon, April 19, 2008 at 12:35 pm Link to this comment

Mugabe’s is a old cunning fox.New elections results cannot out smart him, “He knows, to the victor goes the spoils.” He is ardent follower of Bush philosophy, contest, contest the results, till the winner gives out.

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By jatihoon, April 19, 2008 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment

Mugabe, is a old cunning fox, election results cannot out smart him.He knows, “To the victor goes all the spoils.”

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By tyler, April 19, 2008 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

if zimbabwe had oil, he’d already be gone, but they don’t, so who cares what he does?

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By TDoff, April 19, 2008 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

Mugabe should emerge victorious, for, after all, it is he who sports an American Flag pin in his lapel.

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By Blackspeare, April 19, 2008 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

If you look in the dictionary under the word, “oppressor” you will find Mugabe’s picture.  He is the poster child for one of the most vile, corrupt, murderous, despots in modern history.  While he is quite old now, his close staff, handlers, and party will not so easily give up power and riches for something so flimsy as a losing an election.  I think Jimmy Carters’ next stop after Syria should be Zimbabwe.

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