The Guardian 6 April, 2005

ZANU-PF increases majority

The Zimbabwean election resulted in the biggest electoral win for the ruling ZANU-PF Party led by Robert Mugabe in its history. ZANU-PF won 78 seats, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) got 41 and one independent also was elected to the 150-seat chamber. Mugabe has the power to appoint an additional 30 MPs.

The response of the Australian, British and US governments was entirely predictable as they have been railing against the Mugabe government for a number of years, accusing it of intimidation, misusing food aid, lack of democracy, etc. They also complained that their election observer teams and journalists were not allowed in. Indeed, why should they be permitted into the country when their only purpose would be to spread anti-government stories and to inevitably brand the election as rigged? In the eyes of these outsiders, the only free and fair election is one in which the candidates that they support win.

To them the Mugabe government's real "crime" is that it has re-distributed the land that was seized by white settlers when Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) was colonised by deception and military force by British imperialism in the 1890s.

That Zimbabwe has suffered some economic dislocation is an inevitable consequence of far- reaching economic and social changes that have taken place. A number of these problems arise from the trade boycotts imposed by some western countries. Economic policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund have also taken their toll.

There is also the huge problem of HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe. UNICEF says that about 24 percent of the population of 12 million is infected. Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF, says that other countries are refusing to help. They should "look for other ways to make a political point, but don't take it out on Zimbabwe's children they are the ones who are suffering". The problem is not helped by the pricing policies of the US pharmaceutical corporations which impose high prices for drugs on Zimbabwe, the other former colonial countries of Africa and elsewhere.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) suffered badly in the elections although it has support in the main cities of Harare and Bulawayo.

The rural population that has benefited from the re-distribution of land voted solidly for the ZANU- PF Party. Furthermore, the MDC is increasingly seen as a pro-western Party which would bring an end to the land re-distribution program and adopt political and economic policies favourable to the major capitalist powers if it were to win power.

Contrary to the assessment of the Western powers who did not observe the elections an 11- country observer mission from the Southern African Community concluded that the elections "reflected the will of the people", despite biased media coverage and problems with the voters' roll.

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