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It’s an election, not a negotiation

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It’s 124 hours since polling closed in Zimbabwe’s 29 March Harmonised Election, and I’m angry. Sure, I’m also tired from too many weeks of too long hours working. And I’m overwhelmed by the amount of work the new government will have to do to turn this country back around again. And I’m subdued when I think of how flawed any political system is, and how flawed any politician is, and how much vigilance it will continue to require to hold government accountable.

But mostly I’m angry. The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission released the first 10 out of 59 results for the contested Senate seats an hour ago. The results so far show the same now familiar pattern of an even split – this time it’s 5 seats to the MDC (Tsvangirai), 5 seats to Zanu PF. ZEC claims that the delay in announcement is due to logistical constraints, but if that were the case, why did the 5am news this morning claim they would start announcing results “early this morning.”

The real reason they’ve been so delayed, I’m sure, is because there is some kind of deal making and negotiation going on behind the scenes. Both parties claim they’re not. But there’s talk that the MDC, Zanu PF and the security forces are in negotiations. There are hints that Zanu PF is “deciding” whether they’ll take the election to a run-off. But it’s not for them to decide – it’s been decided already, in the numbers of votes cast for each presidential candidate.

I’ve been concerned about an elite deal deciding Zimbabwe’s future for years. But to subvert an election into a negotiation is insulting and infuriating. We cast our vote in an election, full knowing it might well be rigged. But we didn’t sign up for a negotiation. I’m sure it sounds naive and perhaps unrealistic to hold to some idealistic principle like “the will of the people, as reflected in a democratic election.” But isn’t that the point? It’s time for ZEC to announce the result of the election – flawed as it might have been, and unpopular as its outcome might be to some.

One comment to “It’s an election, not a negotiation”

  1. Comment by yk:

    Somebody please wake up this poor nation. Zimbabwean Liberation History 101, Mugabe killed his best buddy Tongogara, Tongogara of all people just so he can be president. His best buddy, brother in arms and all that, blown to unrecognizable bits just after the liberation war was over and on his way back home for a victory celebration. You really think he is gonna have qualms smashing heads into pulp especially the ones he doesn’t even know, let alone actually loathe ! You must all be still dreaming. He has done the math and he knows, just as we all know, NOBODY is actually coming in to help you out this sh#%. You are in the sh%$ realize it and start thinking along at least the lines of who ever Mr/Ms Tafirenyika is [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/03/31/dl3101.xml#comments]
    and get this guy to the Hague pronto!!! Or at least try. And I repeat please please wake up, for your own sake and your children, and your children’s children’s sake. Mugabe got this country at gun point, he will keep it at gun point, simple as that! There aren’t too many people like Cincinnatus in this world thats why we make epic movies about his story, so deal with it ! Think about it objectively for a minute, why would he want to relinquish power ? His war hero legacy is already non-existent he expended that capital long ago. Stepping down leads in one inescapable direction – The Hague, and we are not talking minor charges here – but serious war crimes ! Which he is sure to be convicted of and get himself locked up in some 8×8 cell some place for a very very long time because the evidence against him is too much and it keeps adding up each day. Prison would be a far cry from the US$26 Million Mansion just built , why would anyone in his right or, for that matter, wrong state of mind want that ?! All this lets pray god is gonna work miracles or lets keep writing gut wrenching poetry about it is just exactly what he is counting on you all to do and you are freakin’ doing it ! Somebody once said nobody is gonna victimize you unless you let them, boy are you letting this Mugabe guy or what ? He is just a man, a mere mortal as any! Give him a check mate and he will realize the game is over. Until then, keep hurting. One man shouldn’t have that much power over 12 Million people. It almost sounds like the holocaust stories – hundreds or thousands only guarded by mere dozens and led to the gas chambers. Only this time he is just starving you all to death, slowly but surely, while your story is being run on global TV sets like some horrendous reality TV series. Yeah yeah I know, who is gonna put the bell on the cat right ? Read the analysis comment posted on The Telegraph website appended below. While you read that, I recommend you forget the RunOff elections, there aren’t gonna be any. Not at least in the way you think when you think Run Off elections. He is basically coming to grab the victory from your very hands, scratch that, he is coming to hurt you badly first, kill a few people if necessary or just because he can then grab the victory from you. How can a whole nation put all its baskets in one egg with no contingent plans when it’s matters of this sheer importance? And before you start getting smart, yeah yeah I know I reversed it. You still in dreamland still ? Then here is a fresh cup of news for you from the AP, but you already know about these events I am sure, but here it is anyways just to hammer in the point. [http://apnews.excite.com/article/20080403/D8VQJIM80.html]. Here is the opening paragraph for you “HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) – President Robert Mugabe’s government raided the offices of the main opposition movement and rounded up foreign journalists Thursday in an ominous indication that he may use intimidation and violence to keep his grip on power.” ‘May’ my ass, since when is the word raid not actually associated with applying intimidation or violent means, fact is he is already doing it! But ‘Ominous’ damn straight it’s ominous. The chain of events has just begun, there will be blood ! Unless ofcourse some of you wake up in time and put your two cents together and get this Mugabe guy with larger than life illusions of grandeur sent away to some Alcatraz. Where he will spend the few remaining days of his mortal life NOT creating a quarter of his country into refugees, driving inflations through the heavens, aiding in slicing a nation’s life expectancy in half, turning a third of the remaining population into international beggars and last but not least, f#$&’s sake perpetuating this black African fools who never learn stereotype! I went to college with jaw dropping inhumanly smart black Africans on globally awarded merit scholarships I should know.

    ‘Nuff of that, here is the analysis response to Mr/Ms Tafirenyika’s comment on The Telegraph website. And if you haven’t read Mr/Ms Tafirenyika’s comment in the link above I totally recommend it’s at least one of the last things you do before Mugabe decides to shut down your internet accesses or something seeing he is going for the full take out the light bulbs and shoot them all in the dark trick.

    “After reading most of the comments here I would have to say Mr/Ms Tafirenyika is the one person who somehow put forth one pragmatic actionable solution I couldn’t keep from smiling about. But I also can’t be blamed for having been a little skeptical about the feasibility of such an idea, so I decided to look a little deeper. It is sad but true though, the way things go in a country without oil, nobody is gonna come into this place to help anybody, we all know it. Thats just the way the world works. The first time I read the comment, it was like I just opened my eyes for the first time, why didn’t anyone think of this kind of contingent plan before ?
    Especially now when it’s totally obvious this results delay from Saturday’s elections is definitely a “deliberate and calculated tactic” in the works unfolding -UK Foreign Secretary, David Miliband [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/miliband-delay-in-poll-results-was-deliberate-803981.html]. So just to be sure, I went back and did some research to see how the numbers and the logistics actually stack up in Mr/Ms Tafirenyika’s proposed approach. If Zimbabweans are to be able to follow through with this bold generation saving plan and actually get this Mugabe guy to an International Criminal Court for War Crimes, what would it really take. Or blankly put, how much would it take? Because lets face it, whatever it is that is gonna need to be done to make this happen, will take a certain amount of money. Now the question you are all wondering is , if you have already read Mr/Ms Tafirenyika’s article, if Mugabe is to decide to pull out his trick bag again [much more likely than we would like to think ,see "The Army have moved Tanks frm Inkomo Barracks, why?" or "There is a war chopper since Wednesday roving n the skies nearer to the ground in Mutoko its frightening." etc SMS messages coming from inside Zimbabwe on the following blog http://kubatanablogs.net/kubatana/?author=7&paged=2, declare victory from those extra printed ballots, angering the peaceful Zimbabwean masses to boiling point, thus instigate uprisings which he would undoubtedly villainously crush using the might of his lock and loaded armed forces - ok i got carried away a little there, but yeah can US$6 Million [from the US$ 2 donation from each of the estimated 3 Million diaspora] do the trick ? Send this guy locked and shackled to the Hague? This has gotta be the most beautiful answer of them all, YES ! Yes it can, not only that but if we are to use the recent past war crimes proceedings like that of Charles Taylor and a bunch of other Balkan guys, it can also more than cover the cost of his 3 year trial !

    Now that you know the good news, lets see how we come up with this conclusion. First , the most expensive part of bringing a war criminal of this nature to justice once arrest has been effected is the trial itself. It drags on and the lawyers for this type of thing don’t come cheap. I know I am jumping ahead of myself because you have to catch the guy first right, I will come back to that in a moment. In the mean time just bear with me. Now according to The TimesOnline of England [http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article3141681.ece] Charles Taylor’s monthly legal budget was US$ 100 000 (even though the people of Sierre Leone were having a hard time coming up with this money at the time, if only they had read Mr/Ms Tafirenyika’s article they probably wouldn’t). So that puts the cost at about US$1.2 Million per year give or take after adding inflation, exchange rates and all that, which is what the people of Zimbabwe would be approximately responsible for. That would bring us to a nice rounded figure of about US$ 3.6 Million again , give or take. Or lets just say it’s US$4 Million for the sake of argument. Now going by the brilliant proposal provided by Mr/Ms Tafirenyika that leaves the good democracy loving people of Zimbabwe with a US$2 Million hunk of change.

    Now let’s get back to that question about catching this Mugabe guy first so that he can be fairly tried for his war crimes by the International Criminal Court. There has been several methods that had been applied in recent history on how to go about this some of which involved spider holes, but with US$ 2 Million you can afford to go first class on this matter. And how would the Zimbabweans do that? Now that brought me to another flurry of searches and I hit a couple bingos. First and fore most catching war criminals in Africa had been a daunting problem for a while, but things have been gathering serious momentum of change of late. Please see this article titled “Impunity on Trial in Africa” [http://www.globalpolicy.org/intljustice/general/2006/0502impunity.htm] from the Washington Post roughly about exactly 2 years ago, where our guy Mugabe here is even mentioned by name, can you believe it ? And another thing, just a side note, about this article is it puts squarely the indirect argument by Mr/Ms Tafirenyika center stage right in the concluding paragraph of the above mentioned article stored at the Global Policy Forum and I quote, “Putting rogues at risk is a good thing,” said John Stremlau, a former professor of international relations in Johannesburg now working at the Carter Center for Advancing Human Rights and Alleviating Suffering. Now how does US$2 Million puts a rogue like our Mugabe here at risk, you ask ? No worries, I have already done the home work for you.

    (1) International Bounty Hunters to the rescue, please see this article titled “International bounty hunters for war criminals: privatizing the enforcement of justice” [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m6007/is_2001_Wntr/ai_75622167/pg_1] . The article gives an example of a situation in Serbia where “…on April 21, 2000, in Smederevo, Serbia, Mr. Dragan Nikolic, an indicted war criminal, was handed over to American Stabilization Force soldiers by bounty hunters.” For how much you say did all that cost, it can’t be cheap right? No, it can’t…it’s dirt cheap, by US$ 2Million standard. The bounty hunters, it states, were paid GBP 31 000. To make matters tough for these guys who busted Mr Dragan Nikolic, it also has to be said that the present Serbian govt. has actually never been happy with having its former leadership crew including Slobodan Milosevic branded as War Criminals. Indeed the article states “Mr. Vojislav Kostunica, Yugoslavia’s newly elected president, has not permitted Serbs to be extradited to The Hague. ” So eventually the Serbian bounty hunters were arrested by the Serbian govt. for their efforts. However, I doubt the incoming MDC lead Zimbabwean govt is going to have issues with Mugabe being arrested and sent to an International Criminal Court for his war crimes in the Hague. If anything I think there are articles where Mr Tsvangirai is actually in favor of making sure Mugabe gets to face justice. So Zimbabwean or other bounty hunters licensed to operate in the country if you are reading, unlike your Serbian counter parts you can breathe easy, start sorting your gear with clear consciences and beautiful dreams of a post job vacation in some tropical paradise with a VIP upgrade compliments of the grateful !

    (2) Effecting Citizen’s Arrest, so he can be sent to the Hague for a fair Trial.
    This is iffy you say, is that even possible in Zimbabwe you ask ? Well I had to ask too, there I admit it. And as it turns out not only is it possible it has actually been practiced and reported as recently as two months ago. And, here comes the mother of all ironies, by of all papers “The Herald , Published by the Government of Zimbabwe”. I kid you not, here see for yourselves “Zimbabwe: RBZ War Against Shady Deals Pays Off” [http://allafrica.com/stories/200802190697.html]. If you are too lazy to check then here is the opening paragraph “Harare: THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s campaign against cash barons and money-laundering is gaining momentum with private citizens now effecting arrests of even police officers [Say what?! Yeah you heard right, people busting cops] involved in shady foreign currency deals.” Wow ! I tell you, you gotta love these brave Zimbabwean people ! Now , throw in a couple million American dollars in the mix, and I would bet Mr/Ms Tafireyika is onto something here – it won’t be easy but someone will catch the biggest and “The Shadiest dealing baron” of them all !

    That’s all she wrote.”