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A call for unity and a message to the Zimbabwean people

Zimbabweans protest in London

Zimbabweans protest in London

A call for unity
We at Sokwanele issue a call for all democratic forces in the country to publically stand strong together, to send a clear message to the people of Zimbabwe that we are all united in our fight for democracy.

A message to the Zimbabwean people

We have won Zimbabwe. We have won.

No matter what happens in the days that follow, we need to remember that we have won.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is taking a long time to release the Presidential results and this is creating a sense of despondency around many in the country. We are getting worried messages from Zimbabweans and we are seeing and hearing people beginning to feel filled with despair.

We have won, so why has this not been announced?

Zimbabwe... this is Robert Mugabe we are dealing with, and his party is Zanu PF.

What did we expect?

Did we really expect that after our victory that Robert Mugabe would step forward like a gentleman and congratulate Morgan Tsvangirai before handing over power?

This is not what Robert Mugabe will do: he will struggle to the end; that is in his nature.

We need to set aside unrealistic expectations, and we must expect that we will witness all sorts of efforts from Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF to silence the will of the people.

None of this changes the fact that the majority of people in our country voted for change and nor does it change the fact that we have won.

Say no to despair!

In this uncertain period we must remember that dictators thrive on despair.

Mugabe and Zanu PF know that the longer ZEC delays with announcing the winner, the more likely it will be that people in our country will start to feel despondent. They know that people who are depressed and struggling with despair also find it hard to stand strong and to confront challenges.

The road to democracy is not a 100m sprint: it's a marathon.

We are at that stage of the race where our limbs are tired and our muscles are aching and our body is telling us to slow down and maybe even give up. But this is the stage where our minds and our hearts have to take over and we need to keep focussed and we need to stay strong and committed to seeing our will, loudly expressed through our votes on March 29th, come to fruit.

The next stage of the struggle we are all involved with now begins within ourselves. We have to stay strong. We must not be weakened by despair. We must not sink into doom and gloom. We must resist these impulses and remember a few truths.

Truth 1

For the first time in many many years, it is us, the forces of democracy and freedom and of peace and justice, who have established the rules of the game. As a nation, with one clear voice, we voted for change. Those scores were placed on the doors for all of us to see with our own eyes. We know the results because we saw them.

Truth 2

For the first time in their 28 years of history, Zanu PF is obviously and publically on the backfoot. They are struggling to find a way to change the incontrovertible reality that they are finished. We are watching them respond to the simple truth that the people said 'no more'. What we are witnessing now are the reactions of a dying regime dancing to tune we started to sing on March 29th.

Truth 3

If Mugabe had been victorious, the results would have been released a long time ago. We would have seen the inauguration ceremony already, and we would have seen the Heads of State of certain nations flying in to Zimbabwe to eat, drink and be merry at Mugabe's party.

This has not happened; it has not happened, because Mugabe is not victorious and he knows it.

Truth 4

Yesterday an article appeared in the Sunday Mail (Zanu PF's mouthpiece) telling us that Zanu PF is demanding that ZEC should defer announcing the results of the Presidential vote. The article said

"ZANU-PF has requested the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to recount and audit all its electoral material relating to last week's presidential election following revelations of errors and miscalculations in the compilation of the poll result. Consequent to the anomalies, the party has also requested that the commission defer the announcement of the presidential election result."

Zimbabweans must note that a request for a recount of Presidential ballots before results are announced is unprocedural and premature. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have already issued a statement pointing out that this is wrong.

ZLHR say: "In relation to a presidential election, the Electoral Act, as amended, does not have any provision for a recount of the votes at all, and especially during the verification process."

They go on to point out: "such a recount can only be requested once the declaration of due election has been made by the constituency elections officer or the senatorial constituency elections officer respectively" and that this request for a "recount must be done within 48 hours of the declaration of a candidate to be duly elected."

This means that Robert Mugabe can only demand a recount of the votes after Morgan Tsvangirai has been declared the winner.

Robert Mugabe's effort to subvert the electoral process muts be seen for what it is: an attempt for him to avoid the humiliation of being publically declared the loser.

(The ZLHR full statement is posted on our blog at this link)

Truth 5

The Sunday Mail article has also revealed Mugabe's weakness and frailty.

Places Zanu PF cites as having votes miscounted includes Mberengwa East and South, "Where Cde Mugabe was deprived of 468 votes, one of his co-contestants, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC, had the benefit of 100."

Zimbabweans must note that the figures under dispute are pathetically small - so small that in normal circumstances they would almost be considered irrelevant. To Robert Mugabe, however, they are very relevant because he is desperate and he is struggling to claw back the smallest number of votes.

Mugabe is not fighting for victory here; he is fighting for a run-off.

He is fighting for a run-off because he has lost the Presidential vote.

His fight now is for one last chance to try and steal a victory in a run-off. He knows he has been defeated, and so do we.

Truth 6

Last week The Herald reported that Zanu PF would be contesting results in 16 seats in the House of Assembly. Isn't it very ironic, laughable even, that Zanu PF is trying to contest results?

We must remember that Zanu PF themselves have set a precedent when it comes to what happens when results are contested.

In 2000 the MDC contested 39 seats, but before the court could rule on these, Zanu PF insisted that those Zanu PF MPs who had been 'elected' (or had stolen) those seats, should be sworn in to the House of Assembly anyway.

So despite their claim that they will be contesting 16 seats, Zimbabweans can still expect to soon see a House of Assembly where Zanu PF is in the minority in accordance with the results announced by ZEC for the House of Assembly.

This means that the democratic opposition parties who have fought for justice for the people will be in the majority. This is a massive victory that marks a very big turning point in the history and future of Zimbabwe.

Truth 7

What many Zimbabweans don't realise because they are cut off from communication with the rest of the world, is that the world is watching. We at Sokwanele know this because we are getting emails from the press, emails from people all over the world, and we have seen the traffic to our website and subscriptions to our newsletter increase exponentially.

This time the feedback we are getting is different.

In previous elections the world has watched Mugabe steal and cheat his way to victory. It has witnessed regional countries endorse victories in the face of overwhelming evidence that they were stolen.

The world's reaction to those previous elections has been impotence; they have been left with a sense that there is nothing they can do in the face of what looks like yet another African cliche of misery and corruption - a tragedy that the region has allowed to take place.

For Zimbabweans, the world's impotence has felt like a slap in the face, as if we have been abandoned to a life without justice, stripped of our basic human rights.

The difference on March 29th 2008 is that the world witnessed an old monster of a regime, one that appears to be a monolithic undefeatable force, be quietly overwhelmed at the ballot box.

We - ordinary Zimbabweans - did this despite every effort of the Mugabe regime to bias the election playing field in its favour; we did this despite years of abuse and violence; we did it despite the fact that we are poorer and hungrier and weaker than we have ever been.

The messages we are getting from outsiders around the world is that the dignity of the Zimbabwean people has impressed and moved those who are following our story.

Ours is no longer a typical African story of misery and failure.

It's an incredible achievement, and almost a fairytale story of how the dignity and spirit of peace and justice can dominate the forces of evil. We did that, and the world is watching with barely suppressed excitement.

With all its heart, the international community wants to see us victorious; they are cheering for us from the sidelines and praying for us everywhere.

It may not feel like it, but we are not alone.

Truth 8

Zimbabweans have done this by themselves. No country anywhere in the world can claim that they created our victory.

We did it by ourselves.

Truth 9

We are on the brink of momentous change in our country. As individuals our lives will change for the better. Now is the time to defeat despair by daring to dream about what that change will be like.

Imagine what it will be like to have food on our shop shelves again, fuel at the petrol stations, power throughout the day, water that has been properly purified and comes out a tap when you switch it on.

Imagine education, jobs, and healthcare.

Imagine that when we go to visit South Africa it will be because we want to go on holiday rather than shopping trips to buy bread and soap and toilet paper.

Imagine our family and friends all coming home.

Above all, imagine a life without fear.

Truth 10

Zimbabwe is standing on the brink of being a beacon of hope for Africa.

With our dignity and adherence to democratic processes and values, and our rejection of violence as a route to change, we have shown the world and other African nations that the Zimbabwean people challenge the cliche that Africa is a continent plagued only by war and cruelty.

We have managed to resist all the violence that Mugabe has thrown at us, and time and time again we have turned to the ballot box.

When people turn to us and say 'This is Africa'; we can respond, 'No it's not, this is Zimbabwe'.

We did it. Rather than feeling filled with despair, we should be feeling strong, and very, very proud.

What if there's a run-off?

We do not want a run-off because we are the winners.

But it might happen, and if it does happen we must be prepared for it. We go into a run-off knowing that in a two-horse race there will be even more votes going towards Morgan Tsvangirai than in the House of Assembly results, where some of the votes went to Simba Makoni. Zimbabweans, excited by how far people at home have brought them will come home to add their votes to ours.

We all know, because we know Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, that if we go to a run-off then it is likely to be a bumpy ride.

But we also know that Mugabe's fight for power is just one fight on his hands. The bigger challenge he faces is the economy and poverty in our country. Robert Mugabe has no solutions to the problem of the economy.

He has passed laws which suppress the free press and control information in our country, making it hard for us to know the truth amidst all the rumours that circulate. But the one truth that Mugabe cannot hide from us is the reality that we are hungry, we have no jobs, we cannot school our children anymore, and we can barely survive from one day to the next.

To stand any chance of a victory, Robert Mugabe has to be able to tell us that he can make our lives better. Mugabe cannot offer us, the people, a solution to our problems unless he can secure support from the international community. All he can offer us is anti-western rhetoric and propaganda. This will not feed us, and it will not help us school our children. He cannot prevent us from knowing this as a fact.

To get the support of the international community, Robert Mugabe needs to be able to them that his victory is legitimate. Mugabe has relied on extreme violence in the past to secure his victories, but since the 2005 elections his propensity for violence has begun to try the patience of even the regional supporters.

Operation Murambatsvina, for example, brought condemnation from the UN onto the Zimbabwean government. This happened just after the 2005 elections. The images of our beaten and tortured civic and opposition leaders in March last year disgusted the world and shamed regional leaders. Those images showed the world what we in Zimbabwe already know; that the Mugabe regime can behave like violent thugs. Violence will not earn him the legitimacy he craves.

Nor will rigging and fraud: many in our country have worked hard to expose all of Mugabe's tactics, and those people in the world who have the ability to help Zimbabwe recover now know his tricks.

If we go into a run-off, we will be prepared to continue exposing the rigging and the fraud and the violence.

We have the advantage this time that by delaying the results in the way he has, the world is already very suspicious of Mugabe's motives and believe he is stalling and rigging. Their minds and ears are open and they are ready to listen to the truth from us.

What can we do as individuals?

  1. Begin to break down the barriers between us

    Mugabe has done his best to divide our nation, to turn us against each other and build suspicion and hatred. Now is the time to challenge those lies and begin to heal and build unity. Smile at those who you previously feared: the police and security forces. Show them in your behaviour and attitude that the future is positive and that we all stand to benefit.

  2. Keep all of our spirits up

    Do your best to remind those around you that just because Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe are thrashing about like a fish on a hook, it doesn't mean that we have lost.

    Support each other when we begin to let go of hope.

    Never forget: we have won.

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