01 April 2008

Zimbabwe elections: is media optimism justified?

For the last couple of days we've seen headlines announcing that Mugabe's repressive regime has fallen, and that the MDC has won the elections in Zimbabwe. Only when one reads the small print does one discover that this is based on guessing, wishful thinking and speculation.

Reports from observers on the spot, however, indicate that this election was no more free and fair than the last one and the one before that.

sa news YCL members back from Zim
Three members of the Young Communist League's Zimbabwean election observer team have returned early because of constant surveillance amounting to intimidation by Central Intelligence Officers (CIO).

In a statement on Monday, the league said three members returned early and one member — based in Bulawayo — had been interrogated by the CIO.

'This shows the level of intimidation that is still prevalent in Zimbabwe,' it said.

Four years ago, on 1 March 2004, the South African Council of Churches held a meeting at Kempton Park where the situation in Zimbabwe was discussed. Several of those present had been election monitors at the previous election, and said openly that they needed to repent because they had been pressured into signing statements that the elections were free and fair when it was quite evident to them that they were not.

It seems that this election has been no more free and fair than the previous ones.

It might be better if the media did not count the chickens before they hatch.

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