Sunday, 13 April 2008

Zimbabwe in crisis

A worldwide effort is needed to urge South Africa's Thabo Mbeki to pressure his friend Robert Mugabe. A global petition is growing--

Zimbabwe is on a knife's edge between democracy and chaos. Some results still have not been released from the 29 March elections--and each day, more signals emerge that Mugabe will resort to violence and fraud to hold on to power. Its stealing an election in slow motion, as courts decide what happens next.

Mugabe is unlikely to listen to the world's outcry--but he might listen to his old friend and powerful neighbour Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa. Click below to add your name to a petition calling for the results to be released, verified, and peacefully honored, and we will do all we can to deliver it to Mbeki--through diplomatic channels, over the radio, and in a public event when Mbeki travels to New York for a United Nations meeting next week.

The more of us sign the petition, the powerful the message that South Africa's reputation as a world leader is on the line. Click here to add your name, and then forward this email to friends and family:

South African president Thabo Mbeki said on Monday that 'it's time to wait' on Zimbabwe. But the more time passes, the greater the danger grows that the will of Zimbabwe's people will be ignored. Avaaz launched this petition earlier in the week to its African members, and thousands signed on; now, we need people around the world to add their voices in solidarity and take the pressure to the next level.

In a crisis like this, a petition is just a small step--but it's something all of us can do, to raise our voices and call for what's right. And as history shows, international solidarity can be a powerful thing.

Nelson Mandela should also urge Mugabe to go.

"Nelson Mandela should publicly urge Robert Mugabe to stand down. He should denounce the recent election fraud and the withholding of the poll results."

This call comes from human rights campaigner and Green Party candidate for Oxford East, Peter Tatchell, who has twice attempted a citizen's arrest of the Zimbabwean dictator in London in 1999 and in Brussels in 2001.

"Nelson is the hero of the anti-apartheid movement, but his silence on Zimbabwe's unfree and unfair elections is collusion with tyranny. He is betraying his fellow Africans in Zimbabwe," Mr Tatchell added.

"Britain should be pressing African Union leaders, including South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki and other top ANC officials, to call on Mugabe to retire. They should offer him a face-saving exit strategy. The Zimbabwean crisis needs an African solution.

"People around the world, including Zimbabweans, supported Nelson Mandela's freedom struggle against apartheid. It is now time that Mandela reciprocated this solidarity by calling for the release of the election results and for Mugabe to concede that he lost the presidential poll.

"Other African leaders also need to speak out against Mugabe's despotism. The people of Zimbabwe deserve a democratic, representative government that ensures equality and justice for all its citizens. These were the goals of the African liberation movements of the last 60 years. They are still worthy goals today.

"Predictions of Mugabe's election defeat and his exit as president were premature."

"The failure to release the election results is fairly conclusive evidence that Mugabe was defeated, otherwise he would have published the figures and boasted of victory.

"The beatings, raids and arrests of opposition supporters and the renewed seizures of white-owned farms are being orchestrated by Mugabe's police and military. They show that he is determined to stand and fight. He won't go quietly. Yet again, the Movement for Democratic Change and the international community have under-estimated Mugabe.

"The Zimbabwean tyrant and his political party, ZANU-PF, have lost the election, clearly and conclusively. Even his three-card box of tricks - intimidating the media and opposition, bribing the electorate with land and food, and stuffing the ballot boxes - was not enough to secure him victory.

"The people of Zimbabwe have spoken: there has been a mass rejection of Mugabe's many years of fiddled elections, economic mismanagement and human rights abuses.

"The election results were posted at many polling stations the day after the elections. Most showed substantial wins for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in both the presidential and parliamentary ballots. The delayed release of the ballot results by the Mugabe-controlled Election Commission has been a vain attempt to massage the results in favour of ZANU-PF," said Mr Tatchell.

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