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Were Elections in Zimbabwe Fair?

Aired March 14, 2002 - 15:30:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any objective-minded person will agree that these elections were conducted freely and fairly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This election, as allowed by the register general's office, does not reflect the true will of the people of Zimbabwe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The election campaign was marred by incidents of violence in all provinces.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are hopeful that now that the people of Zimbabwe have spoken, the world will respect their verdict.

KOFI ArMDNM_NNAN, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: There is clearly great controversy, both within the country and abroad, about the way the elections were organized and conducted.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: We do not recognize the outcome of the election because we think it's flawed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Already, we known that Zimbabwe is in breach of the Commonwealth's basic values, and that in itself justifies suspension.

JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): On this edition of Q&A, the aftermath of Zimbabwe's election. Where does the country go from here?


(on camera): Hello and welcome to Q&A. I'm Jim Clancy.

With Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, declared the winner of his nation's presidential poll, it paves the way for another six-year term.

But his leadership has been criticized for violence and intimidation of the political opposition, leading to threats of sanctions. A mission sent by the Commonwealth has criticized election irregularities.

As Charlayne Hunter-Gault reports, the election has not eased tensions.


CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Led by former Nigerian head of state General Abdulsalami Abubakar, the 42 members of the Commonwealth observer group fanned out throughout the country for the three days of voting.

In their report, they cited a wide range of problems during the three days of voting, but they said more importantly, in the campaign period leading up to the election.

They included high levels of politically motivated violence and intimidation, mostly by members of the ruling party against members of the opposition, and failure of the police to act; a lack of transparency in the registration process, disenfranchising thousands.

The observers also blamed the ruling party for using its incumbency to exploit state resources for the benefit of the campaign.

Members of the power Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions accuse the government of violating its constitutional rights of assembly by sending police agents to its first executive session following the elections.

LOVEMORE MATOMEO, CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS: This message is a message to the entire working people that the labor movement is now under siege, and that it is now up to the people of Zimbabwe, the working class of this country, to stand up and fight for their freedom and their rights.

HUNTER-GAULT: The union leaders say they were not yet calling for a strike, but were not ruling it out.

Any expectation that the political temperature would be lower here after the election was over was clearly wishful thinking. And with Thursday's Commonwealth observer group report and British rejection of the election outcome, the international temperature is also on the rise.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, CNN, Harare, Zimbabwe.


CLANCY: The European community has been highly critical of Zimbabwe's president.

Now with us on the telephone from Brussels is Glenys Kinnock, senior member of the European parliament and Labour party spokesperson for development.

Ms. Kinnock, I want to begin just by asking you, the government of President Robert Mugabe says that it has had a victory over an imperialist empire, meaning Britain, meaning that this comes down to black and white.

The white community didn't want to pay for land reform, didn't want to buy out the white farmers in Zimbabwe who hold the majority of land and turn it over to blacks who need that land. What is the truth, in the perspective of the European Union?

GLENYS KINNOCK, LABOUR PARTY SPOKESPERSON: I think as Europeans it's very important to acknowledge that the European Union has a long interest of resources and interests in Zimbabwe, and also to say that the rhetoric about whites, pink noses, and all those kind of thing which Mugabe and others have been saying, really doesn't stand up to analysis.

It's very important to say that the so-called land reform, the occupation of land, has resulted in huge shortages of food in Zimbabwe, and created a serious situation which will need to be addressed, and I'm afraid will probably not be addressed in the ensuing weeks and months.

CLANCY: The situation for Zimbabwe's people; inflation 120 percent, unemployment 60 percent. What chance do they have if yet more sanctions are put in place?

KINNOCK: It's very important that the European Union and other donor communities do not threaten Zimbabwe with sanctions which will cause even more suffering, exacerbate the terrible problems that the people of Zimbabwe are facing at the moment. That's clear.

What we still need to do is to find ways of targeting the elite of Zimbabwe, ways which will target them which will not effect the poor people of Zimbabwe.

But nevertheless, strong condemnation has to be made at this time of an election which has been clearly, deeply flawed, and has been brazenly manipulated by the ruling party, ZANU-PF.

CLANCY: Is there any sense there in Brussels that regardless of the intimidation that was charged, regardless of the violence that was witnessed, the voter fraud that the government has been accused of -- regardless of that, it might be better to work with President Mugabe then to try to ignore him somehow, and see any progress for the people of Zimbabwe?

KINNOCK: I think for a long, long time an enormous amount of patience has been shown by the European Union towards President Mugabe, and efforts have been made right up to the wire to try to engage with him.

I very much hope that that will still be possible and that the ideas that people have about governments and national unity and so on can be real. But I very, very much doubt that.

And I think there'll be an enormous level of skepticism from the opposition to these kind of ideas, because it's very unlikely that Mugabe and his ruling party will be willing to share power in any kind of meaningful way with those people who have been prepared to show the enormous courage that they've shown in standing against that ruling party.

CLANCY: So, can you make any predictions about what moves the EU parliament, the European Union, will make in response to this vote?

KINNOCK: The European Union will strengthen, I presume, the sanctions that they have in place.

But I really think it's far more important at this time for us not to concentrate on what the EU or the United States or anyone else does.

The important thing to press for is that Africa itself react to this situation, because the impact of statement from African leaders will be far, far greater at this time, if they are prepared to stand up, prepared to say that they question the results of this election, and that they want to see change, that they want to see an engagement with a different kind of way of operating in Zimbabwe, then that'll be far, far, more important than discussions that we might have about what the European Union or anyone else should do.

That is the key issue now, and that is where the president of South Africa, and others, can make a real, real difference, if they will commit themselves to democratic change, to really supporting the forces of democracy in Zimbabwe, then that will be enormously encouraging to everyone across the world.

CLANCY: Glenys Kinnock, thanks to you for being with us here on Q&A.

We want to move on now to go to Washington where Salhi Booker, the executive director of Africa Action is with us. And also, from Houston, Texas, Chido Nwangwu, founder and publisher of USAFRICAONLINE.COM.

Salhi Booker, your view of these elections and what the response should be. It is a difficult situation, looking at the plight of the Zimbabwean people.

SALHI BOOKER, AFRICA ACTION: Well, certainly, we knew in advance that this was not going to be a free and fair election.

President Mugabe won an election that was not fair. The election is not simply the activity that took place in the three days of voting, but in the two years since the constitutional referendum in the year 2000 that the ruling party lost, as well as the parliamentary elections that year, that saw a major role, for the first time, of the opposition party.

Sadly, the elections in Zimbabwe are indicative to some degree of the state of democracy in Africa, and the glass is actually half-full and half- empty.

On the one hand, what Mugabe has done, we've seen elsewhere, where ruling parties, finally threatened by other parties, prove quite capable of manipulating the electoral process to insure the result favors them, and yet they still maintain international acceptance, like in Kenya or (UNINTELLIGIBLE) or more recently in Zambia.

One of the problems with the European and American criticisms in Zimbabwe is that they come off somewhat disingenuous, because of a real sort of double standard in selectivity.

Zimbabwe has received disproportionate attention. We welcome the attention, but we think it undermines those who seem less concerned with democracy elsewhere in Africa.

CLANCY: Chido Nwangwu, what does it mean for democracy in Africa if Africans themselves, African leaders of other countries, don't speak up and instead support President Mugabe in this?

CHIDO NWANGWU, USAFRICAONLINE.COM: It is slightly indicative of a ruling class on the continent that seeks to keep itself in power.

But there is also the fact that the Opposition of African Unity, the OAU, said that the elections, however imperfect, were fair.

The president of Kenya and the president, I believe, of Tanzania, have spoken in support of the election of Robert Mugabe.

There is also the other side of democracy on the African continent which appeals to nativist (ph) instincts, become part of the staples of staying in power. Somehow, the international community, and especially the opposition, MDC, allowed Mugabe to define the elections as another second nationalist struggle between the ZANU-PF's Mugabe and the international community, which, as you know, was a major factor in the fight for independence for Zimbabwe in the early-80s.

CLANCY: But when you look at that, Chido, still, the question is, do other African leaders look at this as a signal? You can get away with it?

NWANGWU: To some extent, yes, as Professor Booker rightly pointed to.

The mechanics of getting to the day of the election is as important as the day of voting. The fact of the matter is that the power of incumbency on the African continent is overwhelming. You have executives who also claim legislative functions. You have executives, as Robert Mugabe, who basically minimized the independence, if in fact, to put it really directly, he undermined the independence of the judiciary in Zimbabwe.

But it is also important not to forget the fact that there are material and practical issues of empowerment. The land issue which Britain has mishandled. There is also the issue of giving Zimbabwe an international credit (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that allows it's rehabilitation into the international business system.

CLANCY: All of this comes down to the reaction that we're going to see. The first reaction we're going to see is going to be from the people in Zimbabwe themselves, trained professionals and others.

From Washington, we're joined by Mori Diane, he's executive vice president of AMEX International. It helps find jobs for people from all over the world in the United States and elsewhere.

What is going to happen, do you predict, for those professionals working in Zimbabwe who may have pinned their hopes on an MDC victory in all of this, to see the kind of political change they wanted in their country?

MORI DIANE, AMEX INTERNATIONAL: Naturally, the pursuit of their own personal welfare will be for these professionals to move overseas, as we understand the tendency has been.

And the unfortunate thing is the consequence that they will have from an economic standpoint on Zimbabwe itself, because it will deplete the country of the necessary human capital that this country needs to manage it's administration affairs, but to manage it's commercial affairs, and to crease the type of economic opportunities that the country needs to expand.

And in parallel, the unfortunate thing is that most of the people who will tend to immigrate, those who are likely to bring about the type of opposition to the rules that you would see in Zimbabwe.

The result is that Mugabe would in fact be able to reign in this country with far less opposition than he would have been beforehand.

CLANCY: All right. We're going to have to take a short break. We've got a lot more to talk about.

What is next for Zimbabwe? When we come back, more on these possible repercussions.


JACK STRAW, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: For months, the government in Zimbabwe has conducted a systematic campaign of violence and intimidation designed to achieve one outcome: power at all costs. It's no surprise that this outcome has now been achieved.



CLANCY: Welcome back to Q&A.

Robert Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since it achieved independence from Britain back in 1980.

Let's look now at what could lie ahead as he goes into an unprecedented other term that will put him in power for another six years.

To understand that, we're joined from Washington by Salhi Booker, executive director of Africa Action. Down in Houston, Texas, Chido Nwangwu. He's the founder and publisher of USAFRICAONLINE.COM. Also, from Washington, Mori Diane. He's the executive vice president of AMEX International.

Salhi Booker, let me begin with you. Is there going to be a flight of capital and human resources from Zimbabwe?

BOOKER: Well, there's already been an economic plunge occurring in Zimbabwe over the past several years. Much of it attributable to the increase in political violence. Also attributable to Zimbabwe's involvement in the war on the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Investors are unlike to be moving to Zimbabwe in the near future. And the economic fallout is going to effect other countries in the region, including South Africa, whose currency has already been effected.

Often, investors, unfortunately, when looking at Africa, often do not distinguish between countries.

CLANCY: Chido Nwangwu, when you look at this situation, some have said that there are going to be tens upon tens of thousands of people seeking employment outside of Zimbabwe, many of them looking to South Africa.

NWANGWU: That will happen. Most significantly, I believe that there will be a further radicalization of the politics of Zimbabwe. The answer will not be for the MDC and its supporters to leave.

Also in Zimbabwe's future, I see that there will be a realization by President Robert Mugabe that he can only detach himself from the network of international committee for so long.

The other issue that I see is that there will be a wider chasm between the urban political people and those who are in the rural areas who basically insure President Robert Mugabe's winning the elections by all means possible.

CLANCY: Mori Diane, you have been in a situation in Guinea where a decision has to be made at some point, do you stay in your country or do you leave and seek greener pastures elsewhere because you can no longer tolerate the politics.

DIANE: Obviously, the temptation to leave is great, because one is, after all, responsible for his own person.

And when it becomes evident that, despite whatever talent one may have, despite whatever other capital resources one may have, that you will not be able to expand your horizons in the country that you are in, it is a great temptation to seek those green pastures elsewhere.

The unfortunate thing for a country like Zimbabwe is that those people who are likelier to leave are those who have the greatest capacity, those whose value added to the economy and the political environment of the country was the greatest, so that the decay is far more resounding than in other circumstances, when you say you have an in-flight of refugees due to a war situation.

BOOKER: I would be less pessimistic. I don't think we're going to see that kind of brain drain. Zimbabwe has the population with the highest levels of literacy in all of Africa.

NWANGWU: I agree with you.

BOOKER: Earlier, I said that the glass was half-empty, on the negative side. The half-full side is that you actually see a real contest in Zimbabwe, even though it wasn't fair. You see a growth in democratic opposition, in civil society groups.

I actually think that this represents the other trend in Africa, which is greater scrutiny of elections, greater insistence on constitutional guarantees to prevent ruling parties to be able to manipulate elections in this manner.

So the lead is going to be given by, of course, Zimbabweans and people in the region.

And I think the other thing is that there really is a split among African leadership. It's not just a split between Europeans opposing the result and Africans embracing it. You find official bodies in Africa accepting these results: governments, the OAU. But you find African civil society: trade union organizations, legislators at a lower level, and certainly human rights and civil society organizations, roundly criticizing the elections and offering their solidarity with Zimbabwe's civil society. And that's a positive thing.

DIANE: In my opinion, there comes a time when the resilience even of the more devoted nationalists in the country, those wear off. After 22 years, and so many elections, the results of which has become now predictable, my suggest is that the tendency will be for people to start thinking about other alternatives.

You know, you come to a point where you have basically tried everything, you have gone through elections, you have tried to sway the government, you have tried to change the atmosphere. After 22 years, again, and after so many tries, I believe that the tendency will be for some people now to say maybe we can't do anything the way things are.

NWANGWU: It's not only in Zimbabwe that we have organizations or political parties governing a country for a very long period of time.

CLANCY: Gentlemen, let me -- we've got only a little bit left here. Let me ask you this: are we going to see a hard right turn in politics and the way the country is run in Zimbabwe? The Supreme Court is already packed. The opposition, if they speak up now, I'm looking at the political change in the days and months ahead.

NWANGWU: As I said earlier, there will be a radicalization of the politics of Zimbabwe, both in terms of the positioning on the part of President Mugabe and also the opposition forces. And we will see new realignments, which will not necessarily be too much embracive for the international component of that opposition, which I believe served as the soft underbelly of the MDC.

CLANCY: How do you translate that, Chido? I mean, are you talking about a crackdown here by Robert Mugabe? Or are you saying that the MDC is going to become emboldened?

NWANGWU: I believe that Robert Mugabe will seek to crackdown on the opposition, as he has already started. Welch (ph), the second general of the MDC, is already charged for treason.

CLANCY: All right. Salhi.

DIANE: Jim, I think what I have seen also happen in the past, and in an example like this, again, I do believe that you will have some flight. What will happen is that the flight will actually deplete the rank of the opposition. The people who are likely to oppose some of the arbitrary measures that are being taken. So that may weaken, in fact, the opposition, and give more room for Mr. Mugabe to act more radically than he has in the past.

CLANCY: Salhi Booker, the last word.

BOOKER: I am optimistic the democratic forces in Zimbabwe will strengthen and provide leadership on how to insure there is greater respect for the rule of law.

I think we have to bear in mind the elections in Madagascar recently, where the declared losers, nonviolently, have basically claimed government.

I don't think that's going to happen in Zimbabwe at present, but I think there are other options that argue for an increase of democratic forces and progress.

CLANCY: All right. Chido Nwangwu, Salhi Booker and Mori Diane, our thanks to all of you for being with us.

Didn't have agreement on this topic about what lies ahead, but most people seem to be of the notion that something will happen, both politically and economically, many factors to examine. It's a story that we're going to have to continue to watch.

That has to be Q&A for this day. I'm Jim Clancy. The news continues now, on CNN.





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