By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE US, through its US Agency for International Development (USAID), is spending US$10 million in efforts to improve Zimbabwe’s political process and these include supporting non-governmental organisations acting as election monitors for the 2023 poll.
This was said by US Senator for Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who added that incumbent president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s human rights record was worse than that of his predecessor Robert Mugabe.
“Yet Uncle Sam wants to spend American taxpayer dollars to determine if the upcoming elections there are, in fact, rigged,” he posted on his twitter on Christmas Day.
“In 2017, President Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power promising to be a reformer, despite having gained power through a military-sponsored coup.
“Maybe he’s true to his word, and the U.S. paying non-governmental organisations to monitor the 2023 Zimbabwean election will help instill democratic confidence in the people of Zimbabwe.
“But the evidence suggests otherwise.”
Paul added, “Despite attempting to present himself on the international stage as a stark change from authoritarianism, notwithstanding the 2018 election, President Mnangagwa’s domestic record appears to be just as bad as Mugabe’s.
“Mr. Mnangagwa’s opponents now fear he is more dangerous than his predecessor.”
The outspoken lawmaker went on to say in Mnangagwa’s first 21 months in office, he had already imprisoned more people for subversion than Mugabe did in 37 years.
“There is one clear variation between the men that has made itself apparent in the three years since Mnangagwa took over,” he posted.
“Mnangagwa tends to turn to the military (which helped him initially gain power) to keep the population in check, rather than depend on militias and police like Mugabe.
“It seems as though this differentiation is a bit of a distinction without a difference.
“His critics say the result is the same: a repressive government that has a dangerously low tolerance for dissent.
“But if the U.S. doesn’t pay for people to observe the ‘election’ to take place in 2023, how will we know how bad the situation is?
“Well, perhaps we could rely on the European Union, which sent election observers in 2018 and will likely do so again in 2023, or others with a more vested stake in the outcome rather than duplicating or triplicating efforts.”
Paul added, “Will it all make any difference? Decades and decades of charges against Mugabe’s elections did not cause him to become more democratic, nor did they drive him from office.
“So why is the State Department spending $10 million so it can have something to waive around when it ultimately points its finger at Zimbabwe’s leadership and says, Shame on you?”
The US imposed targeted sanctions on some Zimbabwean leaders and associated firms in 2001 but nothing by way of democratic processes seems to have changed from that.
Zimbabwean authorities continue to claim unwarranted interference in the country’s affairs by the superpower.