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Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai, run-off can't be wished away
Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Herald

SINCE the release of the presidential election results last Friday showing that no contestant managed an outright majority and that a run-off was the only way to determine an outright winner, the opposition MDC-T and its allies have intensified claims that the electoral environment is not conducive for a free and fair run-off.

The MDC-T leadership claim Zimbabwe is a virtual war zone warranting external intervention, and to give succour to the opposition's claims, the American and British governments dutifully issued travel warnings advising their citizens against travelling to Zimbabwe.

To cap it all, they tried to get Zimbabwe on the agenda of the UN Security Council as a presumed threat to international peace and security.

Ironically, as this anti-Zimbabwe campaign was being waged, the country played host to two highly subscribed international events over the past two weeks, all of which exposed the opposition's claims for the sham that they are.

Bulawayo played host to the 49th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, from April 24 to April 26 while Harare hosted the Harare International Festival of the Arts, from April 29 to May 4.

At both events, Western embassies and their staff came out in full force with Zimbabweans from all walks of life and political persuasions mixing and mingling without incident.

In fact the ZITF attracted hundreds of exhibitors from different parts of the world in addition to selling over 1000 more square meters of floor space than the previous years.

Three days later HIFA roared to life in Harare brimming with artistes drawn from countries as diverse as Brazil, Spain, France, Britain and Mali, to mention just a few.

Some of the Western ambassadors and their staff who are busy sending alarmist reports about an alleged crisis in Zimbabwe to their home countries were frequent visitors to HIFA, often not leaving till the last show ended in the early hours of the morning usually around 0100 or 0200 hours.

What is more? White Zimbabweans, whom the world is made to believe, are living in terror, were just as represented as their black counterparts at HIFA, showing that contrary to claims from London and Washington, they are not living in a fear society. Different art forms, some of which were commentaries on the political developments in Zimbabwe, were freely performed with no comebacks on the artistes or organisers.

All this confirmed that the "Zimbabwe" on the opposition's lips is far removed from the real Zimbabwe and that unlike the US, which is a virtual fear society where the colours of the rainbow are used to denote terror-alerts on a daily basis.

Zimbabwe is a free country with well-functioning institutions and systems.

If Morgan Tsvangirai is as popular as he claims to be, he should not develop cold feet over seeking a resounding mandate in the run-off?

Can't he see the irony that some of the countries in which he is gallivanting on a daily basis live in a perpetual state of fear either from terrorist attacks or crime, and that the Zimbabwe he trashes is actually much safer than all of them combined?

In case he needs reminding, only a few weeks back, he was held up at gunpoint in Johannesburg and was relieved of his personal effects. Something that has never happened to him here.

Zimbabwe is very safe, the Westerners to whom he is grandstanding on a daily basis are not stakeholders in Zimbabwe, and neither do they cast votes in the run-off.

To this end, we urge Tsvangirai to focus on the issues at hand. The run-off is real, is enshrined in our law and will not be wished away.

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