Friday, August 3, 2018

Prof. Schwab explains African elections

Zimbabwe's capital Ha-ha-harare (the Fun Capital of Africa) was calm today, hours after the government-appointed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) declared Comrade Emmerson "ED" Mnangagwa winner of the presidential election held July 30th. See "ED wins Zimbabwe presidential election - quelle surprise!", WWW 2/8/18.

The voting itself was peaceful enough, but things got ugly when the ZEC delayed announcing the results of the presidential race for three days, while making sure that they got their numbers right, to avoid a repeat of the 2008 contest in which Comrade Bob Mugabe failed to win an outright victory on the first ballot. As reported here yesterday morning, six people were killed in the melee when the army rolled in tanks to disperse rock-throwing demonstrators who denounced "the Crocodile" and and alleged vote-rigging.

Harare's roads appeared to be free from the troops today, but water cannons and police remained present at the headquarters of the Movement for Democratic Change (the main opposition party), which police raided yesterday, making 18 arrests. Ed. has obtained for us a picture of the authorities announcing the results to obviously disappointed MDC Alliance leaders.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, who received more than 44 per cent of the vote, said on Twitter that "unverified fake results" had been announced by the electoral commission. The ZEC "must release proper and verified results endorsed by parties," Mr Chamisa tweeted. "The level of opaqueness, truth deficiency, moral decay and values deficit is baffling."

Well, it's only baffling to those who expect an African election to bear some resemblance to an election in western democractice, like the US of A. [Eh? Ed.] By the sheerest coincidence, I just read Africa: A Continent Self-destructs (Palgrave, New York, 2001) by Professor Peter Schwab, of SUNY Purchase. Here's what the "authority on human rights" has to say about how the process works in the parts of Africa where they even bother to hold elections.

Within Africa, certainly, elections have taken place.... But elections are merely one indicator of the democratic process, and they are not worth very much if one leader, party, or group totally dominatees the system and if opponents are harassed, intimidated, often shot at, even arrested, and obligated to campaign fearing for their very lives. Sometimes they are even killed.

That's what happened in Zimbabwe in the presidential election of 2008, mentioned above. When early results on polling day put the MDC candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, ahead of Comrade Robert Mugabe, counting was stopped. Just stopped, that's all. More than a month later, the ZEC announced that Mr Tsvangirai won 47.9% of the vote to Uncle Bob's 43.2%, necessitating a run-off. Faced with the likelihood that his supporters would be the victims of the mayhem described by Prof Schwab, Mr Tsvangirai withdrew from the race, and the only ruler Zimbabwe had known since independence was "democratically re-elected".

Old Africa hands know the saying "MAWA" -- "Mother Africa Wins Again" -- and that's exactly what happened in Zimbabwe this week. End of lesson.

Footnote: I do not recommend Professor Schwab's book. The introductory and concluding chapters are nothing more than a rehash of the usual white liberal American apologies for the abject failure of black government. The way the prof tells it, the all-but-hopeless mess that African is in today, half a century after independence, is the result of centuries of slavery, colonialism and systemic racism, all the fault of the evil whites -- Europeans, not Americans, of course.

In between the first and last chapters is a potted history of the political and humanitarian disasters visited upon their people by the leaders of black Africa, "big men" like Comrades Mugabe and Mnangagwa. In the chapter headed "Civil Wars, Wars, and Political Collapse", Prof Schwab concedes (without once mentioning the race of "modern" Africa's leaders): should be obvious that...western nations, and in particular the United States, would be foolhardy to jump into the bog that is currently Africa. [Yes, that's what he called it. Walt] Unless and until indigenous leadership arises that is intent and willing to put its nation's interests above personal aggrandizement, there is little that can be done to resolve the complex and bloody civil strife operative in so many African states....

In the final analysis, it is up to Africa and Africans to finally take the initiative to fix what is broken and to address the problems confronting their respective states. These are clearly not nations where there is public loyalty to established politically legitimate institutions.... There are many cultures, many loyalties, and few national structures that are not riddled with graft and at the mercy of wanton leaders. No conspicuous anchor is available to tie the ship of state to while exploring solutions.

To repeat... MAWA.

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