Tuesday, 15 April 2008

DA: Mbeki out of touch with reality in Zim

April 07 2008 at 04:25PM

Opposition parties on Monday criticised President Thabo Mbeki's assessment of Zimbabwe's elections.

Mbeki's remarks made in Britain on Sunday indicated he was either woefully out of touch with reality in Zimbabwe, or he was attempting to "deliberately mislead the world's media about the extent of the crisis in that country," the Democratic Alliance's Dianne Kohler-Barnard said.

Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille lambasted Mbeki's "flawed logic".

"To suggest that Africans are claiming their space and that African leaders are taking full responsibility for their problems at home and in the same breath to refer to Zimbabwe as an example of this is not only misleading, it borders on the delusional," De Lille said.

The argument that Zimbabwe's election process had been "more satisfactory" this time around was just not good enough for the people of Zimbabwe.

"The fact is that the people of Zimbabwe may indeed be claiming their space and voting responsibly to deal with their problems, but [President Robert] Mugabe is doing everything he can to deny them their rights."

The delay in releasing the presidential vote outcome was just more evidence that Mugabe was a tyrant, and as long as Mbeki continued to remain silent and failed to act on his Southern African Development Community (SADC) mandate, he would remain a silent partner of Mugabe's tyranny.

Mbeki should be at home in Africa lobbying African leaders in the African Union and the SADC to speak with Mugabe as a matter of urgency and insist he allow democracy to take its course, De Lille said.

Kohler-Barnard said to ensure Mbeki did not remain misinformed about how flawed the elections were, the DA would provide him with a copy of its minority report on the elections.

Kohler-Barnard was one of two DA MPs in the SA delegation in the SADC observer mission.

The report detailed the material flaws in the way the election was conducted, and showed there was "no way that the poll can be judged as having been free and fair", Kohler-Barnard said.

"The reality is that the elections were held in conditions where the odds were heavily stacked in favour of the governing party, Zanu-PF.

"The net result of this fundamentally undemocratic environment was that any opposition victory could occur only in spite of overwhelming odds designed to mitigate the possibility of such an eventuality," she said.

Mbeki had also suggested to the world community that it should wait for the results of a Presidential run-off before judging the situation in Zimbabwe.

"This position is nonsensical for a number of reasons including, most obviously, the question of how a run-off can be mooted before the results of the presidential poll have even been released.

"Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly such a run-off is likely to be held in an even less democratic environment, and one in which there is a real chance that all available measures (including violence and torture) will be used to stifle the democratic will of the people."

It was high time that Mbeki be honest and open about the true extent of the crisis in Zimbabwe, Kohler-Barnard said. - Sapa


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