From the May 2002 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 49, No. 5)


Elections in Zimbabwe

Views from the international press

Auckland The New Zealand Herald (conservative), March 15: Zimbabwe’s descent into bully-boy rule stains not only that country. It tarnishes those African states that would sanction power at any cost. And it demonstrates that Commonwealth principle and rectitude are merely pretense. Mr. Mugabe must see the Commonwealth’s inactivity as akin to an invitation to unbridled despotism. And many in Zimbabwe, cheated at the ballot box, will conclude that they must meet violence with violence if a tyrant is to be unseated. The outlook could hardly be grimmer.

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe The Chronicle (government-owned), March 13: No amount of foolish “statements” declaring the poll “flawed” by Britain, the United States, Canada, and of late the obscure New Zealand can change the will of the people. They have spoken. And to the losers, especially the gay gangsters at No. 10 Downing St. and the cowboy at the White House, we say—with tail between your legs—accept defeat like gentlemen. If you cannot beat them, join them, and it is never too late.

Johannesburg Business Day (financial) March 14: Mugabe now has a piece of paper that he can wave around, reminding people that he is an elected leader. His first-class ticket to world forums has been secured. Armed with this “victory,” Mugabe will now seek to prove to the international community that there is rule of law in Zimbabwe in the hope that they will forgive him and open their wallets to him.
  —John Dludlu and Jethro Goko

Harare Daily News (privately owned), March 14: For the past decade, the ruling party has demonstrated that they are very slick, and Mugabe plays politics like a skillful chess player. In this case elections are used as an instrument of self-assertiveness. The intention of Mugabe on the day the flawed election result is out may be to present a strengthened presidency.

Dar es Salaam Nipashe (privately owned, Swalihi-language), March 15: After the many incidences and threats, especially from the European Union and the United States, Mugabe’s victory is sweet, especially considering that he was fighting against forces that relied heavily on support from the West. Following Mugabe’s victory, we congratulate Zimbabweans for their revolutionary decision of refusing pressure and interference from abroad.

Jakarta Kompas (independent), March 12: Mugabe seems not to realize that this ambition of power downgrades his image as the figure and the hero of Zimbabwe’s freedom....Especially since this...has driven Mugabe to rule with an iron hand. The opposition is closed down by capture, arrest, and prison. More worrying, the orientation of power has caused security and economic issues to be abandoned.

Nairobi The Nation (independent), March 15: The way ahead for Zimbabwe is for both sides to drop the stridency with which they conducted themselves in the run-up to the ballot....The opposition has a vital role to play in this national and international reconciliation. If it has evidence that the polls were rigged, let it pursue the matter through due process. Let it never do or utter anything that can intensify the polarity and violence.

Port-of-Spain Trinidad Guardian (pro-business), March 17: Mugabe’s election might have been free, but [the elections] were decidedly unfair in light of the restrictions imposed on the media, the continued intimidation of the opposition forces, the early closure of polling stations in opposition areas, and alleged tampering of ballot papers.

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