The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
Electoral Cleansing.
Posted Friday, 20 June 2008 at 10:35

When I lived and worked in Africa, I drove to Zimbabwe for food and supplies - it truly was the bread basket for Africa. Now world attention is turning to what is happening in Zimbabwe as the 27th June election marches closer. On Wednesday three of my colleagues raised the issue at PMQs.

What the world must know is that Robert Mugabe and his Generals are working to a little-publicised but clear plan that undermines the prospect of the elections being free and fair.

They have a three-stage strategy for "winning" the Zimbabwean Presidential run-off.  

The first and most brutal part of Mugabe's strategy is a campaign of "Electoral Cleansing".  This intimidation is designed to suppress the MDC vote and terrorise others into voting for the governing ZANU-PF.  If this "electoral cleansing" fails and Morgan Tsvangirai prevails on 27 June, the military under the Joint Operational Command (JOC) will simply ignore the true result, announce their own outcome and quickly re-install Mugabe as President.  The third and final failsafe element is to announce a "state of emergency" - in response to the escalating violence that they themselves have overseen.  This would result in a de facto military takeover of Zimbabwe's Government.

However, at this stage (June 17) the Mugabe government is optimistic that the first element of the strategy will be sufficient to win outright.  The "electoral cleansing" strategy is relatively simple.  The JOC co-ordinates the arming of local militias, who in turn target known supporters of the MDC.  The polling agents who oversaw Tsvangirai's victory in the 29 March election have been identified and beaten.

"Re-education" camps have been established on the edges of most major towns, in order to forcibly inter locals and intimidate them into voting the 'right' way.  An example is made of a few in order that the many are kept in line.  One or two people are tortured, beaten or killed in order to get the message the anti-MDC message across.  In this way, Mugabe does not need to commit widespread murder or genocide in order to intimidate the electorate.  It is targeted electoral cleansing.

The MDC continues to work, largely in hiding, to ensure the mounting reports of rape, violence and abductions get out. Friends of Zimbabwe are committed to passing details of these outrages on.  Bernard Kondo, the MDC Councillor for Mutoro Ward, is just the latest opposition supporter to "disappear" (only two days ago on 14 June 2008).  This morning Takalani Matibe, the MP for Chegutu West, was arrested and forced to watch as his home was burnt down. 

The international community's chorus of condemnation in response is welcome, but its disjointed nature blunts its effectiveness.  Concerted, forceful and united action is needed.

The world community must act.

It can start with a simple, unified and sustained condemnation of Mugabe's campaign of violence and terror.  Zimbabwe's neighbours - South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique - are especially important.  They can show the world that African nations support a democratic post colonial era. Tabo Mbeki can take the lead here.  If he fails to do so he runs the risk of being seen as a man of the past whilst his rival Jacob Zuma shows himself to be South Africa's leader of the future.

And the election needs to be properly monitored.  There must be a vast increase in the size and scope of the election monitoring mission.  Without more election observers there is NO chance of a free and fair election.  There are over 9,000 polling stations.  At present only 300 observers are promised. They would have no chance of covering the balloting to ensure that election was free and fair.

The world community can make it clear that there are real consequences from allowing Mugabe and ZANU-PF to stay in power.  Zimbabwe will face economic collapse.  Mass migration will accelerate as more and more Zimbabweans escape the turmoil.  There is the risk of chaos across Southern Africa.

The future of Zimbabwe lies not just in the hands of its own people.  The nations of the world must act end the bloodshed and ensure that elections are free and fair.  Zimbabwe is an issue for the whole world.

(Many thanks to Mark Fulford and apologies for not posting this earlier this week.)

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