No tears for dirty EU dollars
Fungi Kwaramba, Zimpapers Elections Desk
JUST as it is a historical fact and inescapable truth that foreign nations have over the years tried to influence the country’s electoral processes to advance their interests, it is a common secret that over the past two decades, these countries have come second best as Zimbabwe has outmanoeuvred them and asserted its sovereignty.
It is through that prism that one can understand the anger from Brussels, which is withdrawing its US$5 million donation to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), ostensibly because of “irregularities” in the recent polls but really because their plan to effect regime change or force a government of national unity went up in smoke following President Mnangagwa and Zanu PF’s unassailable victory in elections last month.
By now it is common knowledge that when the European Union came to observe the country’s elections, they had a premeditated position and had already broached an insidious plan to influence the election outcome through either funding oppositional political parties and non-governmental organisations to announce parallel results.
But what is worse is that plan also included donations to ZEC, a Chapter 12 constitutional body that is supposed to be impartial, upright, and beyond reproach.
On ZEC and similar bodies, part of Section 235 of the Constitution provides that: the independent Commissions— (a) are independent and are not subject to the direction or control of anyone.
(b) must act in accordance with this Constitution; and (c) must exercise their functions without fear, favour or prejudice; although they are accountable to Parliament for the efficient performance of their functions.
However, from their incriminating statement, which partly reads, “The European Union (EU) has formally communicated its intention to suspend its US$5 million financial support for the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) to both the Ministry of Finance and Investment Promotion and ZEC. The project supporting ZEC, which is managed by UNDP and scheduled to run until December 2024, is currently under scrutiny due to concerns raised by several international Electoral Observation Missions (EOMs) regarding the independence and transparency of ZEC during the 2023 harmonised elections”, it is clear that the bloc wanted to use its dirty dollars to influence ZEC in the name of “entrenching” democracy.
This is not only condescending but also a wake-up call on independent Chapter 12 organisations like ZEC to never ever accept contributions or donations from foreign entities, worse those with an ulterior motive to remove a sitting government in the name of free and fair elections.
This statement by the EU is perhaps the strongest indication of what was at stake in the August 23 harmonised elections, a calculated and malicious attempt to interfere in Zimbabwe’s democratic processes.
The 2023 elections should forever be acknowledged as the turning point in the country’s electoral processes vis-à-vis funding of elections by foreigners, whose intention was obviously to influence ZEC, an umpire to referee the game in their favour.
One hopes that going forward, Chapter 12 organisations like ZEC will be fully funded by the taxpayers, to free them from the fetters, whims and caprices of calculative foreigners.
Isn’t it a banal fact that he who pays the piper calls the tune and the US$5 million that was extended to ZEC, was coming from an organisation that desired a particular outcome in the elections.
In the United States for instance, the self-proclaimed beacon of democracy, the federal law explicitly prohibits foreign nationals from directly or indirectly making contributions or donations of money in connection with any federal, state, or local elections, as well as any expenditures, independent expenditures, or disbursements for electioneering.
In a world of serious subterfuge, deceit, and subversive strategies, the correct figures that are poured into so-called democracy aid are sparse and often understated, but according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, from just over US$1 billion in the late 1980s, the money being channeled towards the so-called democratisation aid is over US$10 billion.
While in the past the so-called democracy-aid field was dominated by the United States and its European cousins, in the intervening years and indeed in contemporary times, many multilateral organisations have entered the field as well, and these include the UN Development Programme, through which the EU was making its donations in Zimbabwe.
This statement from the EU offers a rare glimpse into the metamorphosing nature of Western interference into democratic processes of sovereign nations like Zimbabwe, they are no longer forming partnerships with local NGOs only but also with regional bodies.
In Zimbabwe’s recent elections, the EU and the American-funded Carter Centre harmonised their predetermined preliminary reports, which were predicated on falsehoods and opposition narratives, with that of the SADC Election Observer Mission, and in one Dr Nevers Mumba, an ex-convict who headed the regional mission, they found a willing accomplice.
It is clear that the EU, aware that its history was chequered and that, from its previous attempts the people of Zimbabwe always come unstuck, enlisted the services of a few individuals in SEOM and successfully imposed their views in the preliminary report as part of a mastered plot to exploit the willingness of regional partners to make negative announcements on the elections.
The EU, to present day, seeks to use the validation of the SADC, now thoroughly discredited report to reverse the will of the people of Zimbabwe, hence its carrot and stick approach that “The EU firmly underscores the critical importance of electoral management bodies serving as independent and transparent institutions in fulfilling their mandates to deliver credible and inclusive electoral processes that enjoy the trust of citizens. The EU remains open to the possibility of resuming its contribution to support efforts aiming at strengthening the electoral processes and bringing such processes closer to the regional and international standards that Zimbabwe has signed.”
However, Zimbabwe should reject those rotten carrots and stand firmly on its sovereignty, for it is trite that there is clear evidence of general bias by Election Observer Missions covering the 2023 harmonised election, particularly the EU, the Carter Centre, and Dr Mumba, in favour of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
The Western Observer Missions focussed their engagements on CCC-aligned civil society organisations (CSOS), inter-alia, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CICZ), Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHCD) and Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP).
This, and the fact that their preliminary reports parroted the CCC narrative of an uneven electoral field and alleged Zanu PF perpetrated political violence, points to a preconceived opinion on the electoral process and outcome.
That it all came to naught has the EU apoplectic and now resorting to threats, all because Zimbabwe yet again bested them, for now and forever, the Western countries can keep their dirty pieces of silver, and Zimbabwe will entrench its democracy unencumbered.