US reignites spat with Zimbabwe on elections


Matthew Miller

from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Bureau
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE United States (US) and Zimbabwe are set on a collision course after the American government denounced preparations for Wednesday’s poll.

The Southern African country does not take kindly to what it deems interference in its domestic affairs, especially by the West. The US is one of Zimbabwe’s fiercest adversaries since a fallout in the early 2000s, when Harare took away land from 4000 white commercial farmers to redress the colonial imbalances.

On the eve of the poll, Matthew Miller, Department of State spokesperson, expressed the concern of President Joe Biden’s government at the preparations for the poll on Wednesday (today).

“We are concerned by recent actions leading up to the elections, including political violence and legislation that curtails human rights and freedoms enshrined in Zimbabwe’s constitution,” Miller said.

He said the American government condemned the denial of credentials for multiple international journalists and domestic civil society members to cover the elections in-country, and delays in election observation accreditation.

“We call on the government of Zimbabwe and all political leaders to ensure the elections are free of violence and coercion,” Miller appealed on behalf of the government.

While the US spoke about press freedom, Washington, this year, is accused of refusing to issue visas to Russian journalists seeking to accompany Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the United Nations, with Russian officials vowing to retaliate against the US journalists in Russia.

“While the United States does not support any party or candidate, we are committed to supporting the democratic process and backing Zimbabwean aspirations to combat corruption and strengthen the rule of law.”

Zimbabwe, independent from US ally, Britain, in 1980, has long accused the US of siding with the opposition, since the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999.

MDC has boycotted the latest polls citing partisanship by electoral authorities and the courts but it is no longer the biggest threat to the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) of the incumbent, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), led by lawyer and pastor Nelson Chamisa (45), has emerged as the greatest rival.

Mnangagwa (80) a veteran of the liberation struggle, also a lawyer by training, is seeking a second term.

He won the 2018 poll, held months after the military masterminded a coup against founding president Robert Mugabe (now deceased). Mnangagwa narrowly defeated Chamisa, who was then the MDC Alliance candidate.

Miller said the Zimbabwean people deserve the chance to choose their future without fear of repression or intimidation, in line with Zimbabwe’s constitution.

Over 6 million are registered to vote.

“We believe the best route to peace and prosperity is for governments to respect the right of their citizens to vote and allow for peaceful and democratic political processes,” Miller said.

On the contrary, the US is equally accused of persecuting opposition leader, Donald Trump, who is contesting incumbent president Joe Biden next year (2024.

Trump is set to be arrested and sent to prison, in a move Harare feels is the US and its Western double standards of democracy, rule of law and human rights.

Meanwhile, following claims that Mugabe’s administration then had rigged elections and perpetrated violations against citizens, the US imposed sanctions on the African nations under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, a move ZANU-PF vehemently dismissed arguing the sanctions were as a result of taking away land from whites before giving it back to its indeginous black people.

However, critics argue these so-called targeted sanctions were retribution over the land reform programmes that dispossessed mainly white commercial farmers of land.

Mnangagwa has during ZANU-PF rallies warned the Western world against meddling in Zimbabwe’s elections.

Mnangagwa also spoke about peaceful elections throughout his election campaign.

– CAJ News

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