When the jackal advises the chicken
Patrick Ventrell, spokesperson of the US Department, this past week said Washington was “deeply concerned” about Zimbabwe’s July 31 general election.
In his estimation, a peaceful, free, fair and credible vote is highly unlikely.
Of course, this flies in the face of what is obtaining on the ground, where political parties are freely campaigning and the electorate is turning out in massive numbers for rallies, signalling their eagerness to go and vote.
But Ventrell and the other “concerned experts” in Washington will not see things this way. They are getting ready to either “relax” or increase sanctions on Zimbabwe depending on the vote outcome. And we all know that for them, the only acceptable outcome is a defeat for President Robert Mugabe.
Naturally, an embedded international media network has latched onto the State Department’s “concern”.
The Times ran an editorial in which it basically dismissed the outcome of the election.
Like the US State Department, the only “good” thing that can come out of the elections is a defeat for President Mugabe.
The Times said, “SADC and African Union (election) observers will be on duty – their counterparts from nations that enforced sanctions against Mugabe and his inner circle have been excluded – but their presence will not be enough to ensure a poll that meets basic international standards.”
Evidently, a “credible” election is only one which meets expectations of the EU and the US. SADC and the AU are, we are generously told by the “concerned experts” at The Times, are woefully incapable of observing an election in Africa.
SADC and the AU have their accepted standards of running an election and as Africans it is these standards that should be of concern to us, not the bogus concern of the Ventrell’s of this world.
What we are seeing right now is an attempt to discredit an election that has not even been held.
Several surveys by international bodies have indicated President Mugabe is likely to win the election on the basis of growing support for his empowerment policies, and a concurrent disenchantment with Morgan Tsvangirai’s blunder-ridden four years as Prime Minister in the coalition government.
There is a growing resignation in the West to the high probability of a Mugabe victory, and this is something that is totally unpalatable to them.
And so they have to discredit the election before it is even held.
It is called giving a dog a bad name. I prefer the variation of that adage which goes: “He that has an ill name is half-hanged.” Zimbabwe’s electoral process is being given the vilest of names so that in the likelihood that President Mugabe secures a fresh mandate to lead the country, the international community can say he lacks legitimacy.
It’s an old trick, but one that Africans fall for again and again.
In fact, it is more than just a trick: it is a form of political violence waged through the media so as to strip Africans of their right to freely determine what kind of leadership they want.
Denial of legitimacy is the first stage in regime change; the next stage is application of sanctions and outright economic sabotage (which Zimbabwe has already experienced), with Pershing, Cruise and drones being deployed if the Africans don’t get the message and vote in a manner that pleases the EU and the US.
It reminds me of what Nigerian political thinker Chinweizu said at the African Liberation Day Public Forum in Ghana in 2008 soon after Zimbabwe’s last general election.
He said of the feigned concern over Zimbabwe’s electoral processes, “these are all ways of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it”.
Chinweizu goes on: “It’s all part of the faked story to justify regime change. It’s like the famous weapons of mass destruction that the world was assured that Saddam had stockpiled!!
“But we must not be fooled. We must not forget that Mugabe has stayed long in office by being elected and re-elected each time.
“Now, is it for the imperialists, or for the Zimbabwean electorate to decide when Mugabe should stop ruling?
“And all this noise about elections not being free and fair? When was the last time any elections were held in Saudi Arabia, let alone free and fair elections? Yet nobody is organising regime change there!!”
The West telling us how to run our elections is no different from the jackal telling the chicken where to roost at night. The onus is on Zimbabweans, primarily, and their friends in SADC and the AU to safeguard our interests and not be swayed by the crocodile-tear-concern of Ventrell and his media acolytes.