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Reasons why Zimbabwe sent the UN team back to New York

21 Apr 2013 at 07:17hrs | Views
Nothing better explains the wisdom behind the Government's rejection of the UN's intrusive conditionality for the funding of the forthcoming harmonised elections than the instructive UN folklore that "if there is a problem between a weak nation and another weak nation and the UN takes action, the problem disappears; if there's a problem between a strong nation and another strong nation, the UN disappears but if there's a problem between a strong nation and a weak nation and the UN takes action, the weak nation disappears."

Given Zimbabwe's 14-year-old problem with powerful Western countries led by Britain that have imposed illegal sanctions against the country, it was wise for the Government to effectively block the UN from taking action that had all the dangers of consuming our national sovereignty under the guise of UN electoral assistance for a few pieces of silver amounting to no more than US$132 million.  It was therefore right for the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs - who oversees electoral legislation - to put his foot down and to send the meddlesome UN officials led by Tadjoudine Ali-Diabacte back to New York.

The fact that Chinamasa's position had the clear and public support of the Minister of Foreign Affairs - Simbarashe Mumbengegwi - made the good case against the UN's attempted interference in Zimbabwe's sovereignty even much stronger as a matter of national pride which reaffirms the now deeply entrenched principle that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again. There are six reflections that buttress this persuasion.

Firstly, it should be remembered that it was the Government of Zimbabwe that freely made the request to the UN through Ministers Chinamasa and Tendai Biti on 4 February for US$225 million to fund the constitutional referendum held on 16 March and the forthcoming harmonised elections constitutionally due by June 30. Zimbabwe made the request as a sovereign state and as a full member of the UN which is not under any UN sanctions, control, oversight process or political programme of the UN. It is established protocol at the UN that when a member state voluntarily makes a request, the practice is to review and pursue the request in accordance with mutually agreed terms of reference.

This unshakable need for mutually agreed terms of reference is precisely why Ministers Chinamasa and Biti specifically wrote in their request letter of 4 February that "It is our hope that a formal structure in respect of the referendum and elections between yourselves (the UN) and Government (of Zimbabwe) be set up similar to the (Copac) project board that dealt with the (funding of) the constitution making process". The UN provided some $25 million to partially fund the constitution making process but did not insist on intrusive conditionality for that funding and yet the making of a new constitution as the fundamental law of the land is arguably far more important than the funding of any election.

The point to underline is that the Government of Zimbabwe freely and voluntarily made a request to the UN for funding of the constitutional referendum and forthcoming elections and that the request demonstrated beyond any shadow of doubt Zimbabwe's commitment, willingness and readiness to re-engage the international community and particularly the powerful Western nations that dominate and influence the UN but which have also imposed illegal sanctions against the country.

Yet Zimbabwe's re-engagement with the international community which is now fully underway cannot be seen as, and will never mean, surrendering the country's sovereignty by allowing the countries that have imposed illegal sanctions to now impose their regime-change agenda under the cover of the UN that they control in the convenient but false name of providing requested electoral assistance. Zimbabwe is not the kind of country that can be expected to countenance that kind of nonsense.

Secondly, it is shocking that some elements in the UN have sought to corrupt Zimbabwe's original request for funding of the forthcoming elections by treating the request as if it were a punitive or even corrective UN Security Council resolution which Zimbabwe was inviting upon itself.

Indeed, the same elements have been scandalously behaving as if Zimbabwe's request for US$132 million to fund the forthcoming elections means that the country has put itself under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and must be accordingly treated as such. The wind has gone with the fact that it is the Government of Zimbabwe that in the first instance freely requested US$225 million from the UN as an act of sovereignty in a February 4 letter for US$225 million to fund the constitutional referendum held on 16 March and the forthcoming harmonised elections. Yet there should be a difference of night and day between a letter of request for funding from a member state and a punitive or corrective UN resolution.

While this daylight attempt to corrupt a request from a UN member state into a UN resolution against that very same state is as sad as it is most unfortunate, it is also very useful insofar as it demonstrates the loaded prejudice against Zimbabwe out there among imperialist quarters and their running dogs.

Thirdly, the fact that the February 4 letter of request from the Government of Zimbabwe for UN funding included the constitutional referendum which was widely judged by the international community to have been freely, fairly and credibly held on 16 March without any UN funding means that Zimbabwe has a compelling baseline or yardstick for measuring or assessing its readiness and capacity to run a credible election which cannot be ignored. Given that there were two parts to the initial US$225 million request to the UN, and further given that the first part relating to the constitutional referendum has been freely, fairly and credible discharged by the Government of Zimbabwe using local resources, it stands to reason that the second part relating to the harmonised elections at a cost of US$132 million can indeed be justified on the proven strength of the successful completion of the first part without any mumbo jumbo about any "needs assessment" which betrays the meddlesome needs of foreign interests that have nothing to do with the national situation on the ground.

Fourthly, what makes this a rather stinking case of unacceptable double-standards with the result of justifying the decision taken by Ministers Chinamasa and Mumbengegwi is that, the intrusive conditionality sought by the UN over the forthcoming elections under the pretext of undertaking "a needs assessment" is radically different from the standard or usual terms of reference applied by the UN in similar circumstances.   For example, the standard terms of reference which are readily available from the UN website fill just one page while the terms of references that some wayward UN officials sought to impose on Zimbabwe under the guise of seeking to provide requested electoral assistance take four pages!  In particular the standard UN terms of reference have six "areas of assessment" while those that were revised for Zimbabwe have 10 include a bambazonke term of reference that mischievously provides for "any other area as appropriate in connection with this request".

Surely, terms of reference of this kind must be restrained, lawful, specific, non-intrusive and mutually agreed between the UN and the member state requesting assistance.  That is how international relations under the UN Charter are conducted.  Anything else is unacceptable stuff of the jungle where chaos rules over civilised norms and laws that bind nations to common values and shared objectives.  What was particularly sinister about the proposed UN terms of reference for undertaking a biased needs assessment to justify the release of the US$132 million to run the forthcoming harmonised elections that forced the Government of Zimbabwe to rightly withdraw its February 4 request is that the terms of reference that the UN officials demanded in vain were specifically designed to capture a synthesis of the letter and spirit of UN Document S/2008/447 which formed the basis of the July 2008 Security Council Resolution on Zimbabwe which dramatically failed after suffering a historic double Russian and Chinese veto.

One does not have to be a rocket scientist to notice that the sum and substance of the rejected terms of reference recently sought against Zimbabwe by the UN Under-Secretary for Political Affairs - whose office is the UN Focal Point for Electoral Assistance - dovetail neatly with what the failed 2008 Security Council resolution sought to achieve.

Fifthly, the bad faith of the UN terms of reference were further compromised by the fact that the UNDP office in Zimbabwe - which carries the flag of the UN in the country - has dirty hands arising from a variety of unpalatable situations that are yet to be fully audited including its treacherous role in the constitution-making process during which it smuggled in foreigners like South Africa's Hassen Ebrahim to pollute the process and compromise its content and outcome to the detriment of the sovereign rights and interests of the people of Zimbabwe who are their own liberators.

The local UNDP office went as far as setting aside untold resources to run a propaganda campaign against Zimbabweans whose views on the new constitution did not support the hidden regime-change interests of some foreign powers who were desperately trying to manipulate the constitution-making process under the cover of the UN. That those nefarious efforts ended in grief was because of the vigilance of many fearless Zanu-PF comrades and cadres who rose to the occasion in defence of the gains of the liberation struggle.  It is instructive that the so-called civil society voices that were included in the rejected terms of reference are the same elements that were part of the UNDP pay-list of designated campaigners who were offered US$200 for writing articles that promoted the UN view on the new constitution against any and all nationalist voices that were speaking out for their motherland.

Given the indisputable fact that its local UNDP office is tainted because of its undeniable association with regime-change NGOs - against the backdrop of scandalous cheque book attempts by the same office to sponsor smear campaigns using the same UN funds that were expected to fund the forthcoming elections - one would have thought that the UN would be aware of its own structural weaknesses in Zimbabwe and would thus prove its sincerity by committing to working closely with the Government of Zimbabwe to find a way of providing the requested US$132 million to fund the forthcoming elections on the basis of mutually agreed terms of reference in accordance with UN norms in similar circumstances.

Sixthly, and given the foregoing, one is at a loss to understand the media hullabaloo whose shocking line is that the Government of Zimbabwe in general and Zanu-PF in particular withdrew the funding request from the UN ostensibly as a rejection of scrutiny.  What scrutiny?  In an amazing front page story which represented this shocking view, the Zimbabwe Independent wrote that, "The Zanu-PF element in the inclusive government has unilaterally withdrawn Zimbabwe's application for electoral funding from the United Nations (UN) as part of a well-calculated move to avoid scrutiny in the run-up to, during and after the next crucial general elections".

The paper revealed information that was not even in the terms of reference that the UN shared with the Government of Zimbabwe writing that; "The UN team wanted to meet political parties and civic groups.  It also intended to visit Mashonaland provinces, Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands, including areas where violence erupted during the disputed 2008 presidential election run off.  Zanu-PF was scared of this and the blocked the mission . . . The reason why Mugabe and his closest courtiers don't want the UN Team is that they want to avoid close scrutiny before, during and after the elections. If they allow the UN team in they fear that it would gather detailed information on the political situation, and then use it to refocus international attention and debate on Zimbabwe ahead of elections".

This narrative from last Friday's issue of the Zimbabwe Independent which is similar to what Tendai Biti has been saying to anyone who has been willing to listen to him is very useful insofar as it exposes first the UN and second the UNDP office in Harare by making clear what the two offices sought to hide from the Government of Zimbabwe which was nevertheless made known by Biti whose useful revelations justified the withdrawal of the February 4 request.

It is irrational and a total waste of time for anybody to think or imagine that the Government of Zimbabwe requested scrutiny from the UN on February 4.  Again, what scrutiny?  And which country in the UN has requested and been granted such scrutiny in the history of the UN?

What are these people talking about?  What are they afraid of besides the fear of losing an election whose outcome is now written on the wall? The record will show that the Government of Zimbabwe requested from the UN US$225 million funding for the constitutional referendum and the forthcoming elections. The same record will show that when the UN failed to fund the constitutional referendum, the Government mobilised funding from local sources and managed to run a free, fair and credible constitutional referendum. Furthermore, the record will show that when the Government revised its initial request for US$225 million to US$132 million to fund the elections, the UN violated its own Charter by insisting on intrusive conditionality whose unprecedented terms of reference were rightly rejected. The UN and the powers behind it have missed an opportunity to assist Zimbabweans and be part of their march forward under the vanguard of Zanu-PF whose leadership is there for all to see.  There is nobody who does not know or who cannot see that Zanu-PF is poised for a resounding victory in the forthcoming elections.  Nothing is going to stop that imminent and certain victory.  It should be understood by all concerned that the rejection of unacceptable UN terms of reference for the funding of the forthcoming elections is not the same as the rejection of the UN itself.  Far from it.

Zimbabwe remains a committed and proactive member of the world body prepared to provide leadership where and when it is necessary.

The rejection of the corrupt terms of reference is an expression of that leadership.  It would not be right for the UN to be allowed to intervene in Zimbabwe in order to get our country to disappear simply because there are issues between it and some powerful countries behind the UN whose agenda is against Zimbabwe's existence as a free and sovereign country that can make and unmake its own decisions over and about anything big or small.

Professor Jonathan Moyo is the Zanu-PF MP for Tsholotsho

Source - zimpapers
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