Emeka-Mayaka Gekara: The world must act on Mugabe

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission makes Kenyan poll chief Samuel Kivuitu look like an angel. It has not released results two weeks after Zimbabweans went to the poll.

Unofficial results by both President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change show that the African strongman lost the election to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mugabe’s group says the commission is in the final stages of “verifying” the tallying to ensure it announces correct results.

Ironically, though the results have not been released, Mugabe’s party says Tsvangirai’s victory fell short of the 50.3 per cent required for him to be president and wants a runoff.

Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe of plotting to use violence as “a weapon to reverse the people’s victory.”

This claim underlines Mugabe’s determination to extend his 28-year-old stay in power. That is the first cause for concern. But even more disturbing is the inaction — almost surrender — of the usually noisy international community at a critical time in Zimbabwe’s history.

Many Zimbabweans expect the West to pressure the tyrant out of power.

The African Union, Britain, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations have been calling for the release of the results, but they have gone no further.

“We are concerned by the deafening silence in the region in the AU and in the Southern African Development Community,” said Tendai Biti, secretary-general of Tsvangirai’s MDC.

"I say to our brothers and sisters across the continent: Don’t wait for dead bodies in the streets of Harare.”

Has the West given up on Harare?

A Zimbabwean friend says the international community has abandoned Zimbabwe at the hour of need and seems more keen on the Kenyan crisis.

Diplomats and analysts say not much can be done to put any pressure on the autocratic ruler.

Others say the West is avoiding broad sanctions that could hurt already economically distressed Zimbabweans, and there is no sentiment in Africa or elsewhere to use military power.

“We have worked closely with many in the international community to try to bring pressure on the government in Zimbabwe to change its ways,” says State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

“That has not had much effect.”

World leaders seem to have entrusted South African President Thabo Mbeki with the task , but his administration says Zimbabwe is not a province of South Africa and, therefore, he cannot ask Mugabe to step down.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa who, as SADC chairman, has convened a summit today to discuss the Harare crisis, but Zanu-PF considers the talks “unnecessary since there is no crisis in Zimbabwe.”

This is appalling, but it is not lost on the world that the bloc has been cheering on Mugabe and projecting him as a freedom icon as he continues to tyrannise his people.

If history is anything to go by, the group is likely to continue with its usual monologue instead of laying a dark carpet for the plunderer’s exit.

All democratic forces should not sit on the fence as Mugabe plots daylight election robbery in Zimbabwe.

South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance has urged Mbeki to consider asking the African Union to send troops to Zimbabwe.

In 1998, Nelson Mandela as South Afrcan president, sent troops into Lesotho to end protests over rigged elections and to prevent a coup.

ANC leader Jacob Zuma has called for the release of the results, while former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has asked Mugabe to do the “right thing.”

The world should do everything within its powers to rescue the disillusioned Zimbabweans and bar Mugabe from mutilating democratic principles.

The Kikwetes, the Millibands and the Condoleezzas of this world should troop to Harare.

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