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African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle


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Unravelling four years
June 15, 2013, 10:12 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

The old saying that a day is a long time in politics has never seemed to be true for Zimbabwe. Year after year we’ve dragged through crisis after crisis: longing, wishing, hoping that something would happen, praying that the events of a day would somehow change the dark situation that we’ve been trying to survive for such a long time.

This week the events of a day became a very long time in politics as they unravelled four years of  hard work, painstaking diplomacy and tireless efforts by so many. Four years of turning the other cheek and biting our tongues for the good of the future of Zimbabwe were rubbed out with one signature.

Using the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, President Mugabe proclaimed unilaterally that elections in Zimbabwe would be held on 31st July.  

It was ironic that on the same day as Mr Mugabe made his proclamation, the daily independent press had front page banner headlines quoting Constitutional Affairs Minister Matinenga telling parliament that elections were only legally possible by the 25th August.

Zimbabweans  were confused: two completely different stories on the same day. We hadn’t yet got our heads around the implications of a Supreme Court ruling that said elections had to be held by the  31st July. That ruling meant that stipulated time frames laid out for processes governing elections could not be adhered to. We didn’t understand how the Supreme Court could make such a ruling but the apparent contradiction became water under the bridge when President Mugabe rode the tidal wave of confusion, used his Presidential Powers and proclaimed a date.  Since 2010 Mr Mugabe’s been promising, threatening and insisting on elections and now it looks like he has put his foot down.

In an instant the unilateral proclamation by Mr Mugabe turned us upside down. The reaction was fast and furious. Lawyers said the President couldn’t make the election date proclamation without first consulting cabinet and said Mr Mugabe “quite obviously did not do so” and therefore the Proclamation was legally void. 

Prime Minister Tsvangirai immediately issued a statement saying the President’s actions were “a unilateral and flagrant breach” of both our new constitution and the GPA. The PM said Mr Mugabe’s proclamation would disenfranchise people; wouldn’t allow political parties time to inspect the voters roll; wouldn’t allow stipulated  campaigning time after nomination court sittings. The PM said that while the Constitution made the President the “chief  upholder and defender of the constitution,” in fact the opposite was happening; he said it was “regrettable that the chief defender and upholder has become the chief attacker and abuser of the Constitution.”

Prime Minister Tsvangirai made some powerful and poignant promises to a Zimbabwe that is tired and worn down by this never ending absurdity. “I will not accept a situation where Zimbabweans will yet again be railroaded and frog-marched to another illegitimate and violent election. The people of Zimbabwe are suffering. Businesses are shutting down, workers are under attack and the economy has frozen. A fraudulent and illegitimate election will deepen the crisis and will not reverse this malaise.”

“Mugabe triggers war,” was a headline article in the weekly Zimbabwe Independent newspaper and it sends chills down our spins to think that we could be flung back into the same situation we had in 2008.  PM Tsvangirai called on Zimbabweans to walk with him and stand by him in what he called  “this patriotic fight to defend the truth and the Constitution.” And so we hold our breath waiting to see if the PM can do it this time. Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.



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