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18.04.2008 Zimbabwe

ZIMBABWEINTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION (ITUC-AFRICA) SPEAKS OUT

By Accra Mail



As the democratic expression of the will of working people on our continent, ITUC-Africa finds it necessary to draw attention to the festering situation in Zimbabwe following recent national elections and the grave dangers that this situation poses not only to the Zimbabwean people but to the people of Southern Africa as a whole if the right thing is not done and the will of the people of that country is subverted.

We accordingly call for urgent and decisive action by the AU and all governments and responsible African leadership to bring the situation to a democratic and desirable outcome expressive of the democratic choice of the people of that country.

While we congratulate the people of Zimbabwe for relatively free and peaceful elections, we note that developments since the announcement of the results of the parliamentary elections in favour of the opposition have become a matter of grave concern to all peace loving and democratic forces on the continent and the world at large.

Of particular concern has been the disturbing silence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on the results of the presidential elections more than eighteen days after Zimbabweans cast their vote. This is a clear violation of the electoral laws of the country which require election results to be declared within six (6) days after the ballot. In this connection, the ITUC-Africa finds the refusal of the Zimbabwean High Court to order the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to announce the results of the presidential elections baffling and a disservice to the people of that country and the whole of Africa.

Election results cannot be challenged when they have not as yet been declared. The position of the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission that it has not announced the election results because it needs to recount the ballot in certain constituencies has come too late to be convincing and rather gives credence to the suspicion that something seriously untoward is amiss.

Far from allaying this suspicion by inclusive and transparent processes, the open acts of intimidation and mobilization of the police and military as well as war-veterans against the opposition by governmental authority can only deepen this suspicion and is to be deplored.

The conduct of free, fair and transparent elections that enjoy the support and confidence of the electorate as a whole is a fundamental precondition for democratization, peace, stability and development. Experience worldwide, but particularly in Africa, has shown that where there are attempts to subvert the electoral choice of the people the likely outcome is a descent to violence, civil strife and political chaos that bring untold suffering and hardship on the people.

It is for this reason that the ITUC-Africa, in the name of millions of workers on the continent, calls for the immediate declaration of results of the presidential elections in Zimbabwe, devoid of any attempt to manipulate the actual outcome. While we note the call by SADC at its recent meeting for the speedy release of the presidential election results, we are however of the view that it is belated and that developments in Zimbabwe call for urgent and robust pressure on the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission and the ZANU-PF government to respect the democratic will of the people of Zimbabwe. Accordingly, we call on the leadership of SADC and the African Union and all African leaders to stand up and be counted in this moment of truth for the people of Zimbabwe.

The old and discredited OAU convenience of non-intervention in the affairs of sovereign African countries has now given way to the forward-looking principle of peer review, democratic accountability and the right to intervene in order to avert a descent into civil strife, political violence and chaos.

The recent experience of Kenya ought to alert all in Africa that it does not pay to act the ostrich and pretend that all is well in Zimbabwe. Now is the time for the AU and African leadership to act while there is still the opportunity to rescue Zimbabwe from the edge of the political precipice. Accordingly, the ITUC-Africa calls on the AU to convene an urgent meeting on the situation in Zimbabwe to ensure that the democratic will of the people is assured and honoured and that no attempt is made to subvert their choice.

This is the certain path of ensuring that the people of Zimbabwe enjoy peace and stability in a free and democratic Zimbabwe. The people of our continent look up to the AU not to fail Africa this time.

Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, General Secretary, ITUC-Africa

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