The leaders of both Britain and Tanzania made it very clear which side they favoured in the recent presidential elections in Zimbabwe. Britain favoured the opposition and Tanzania was on President Robert Mugabe’s side. After the election international observers came up with differing conclusions. The OAU observer team led by Tanzanian Gertrude Mongella found the elections free and fair as did the 25-member Tanzanian team. But observers from Europe, the USA and some countries in Africa including Ghana and Senegal described the elections as not free and fair. South Africa’s team was divided although its leader said that the election had been ‘legitimate’. But it was the Commonwealth team, led by a Nigerian, who proved decisive in describing the election result as ‘not having represented the views of the people.’ On March 19 Zimbabwe was expelled from the Councils of the Commonwealth.

After the election President Mkapa wrote as follows to President Mugabe: “I am writing to extend our warmest congratulations on the renewed and deserved presidential mandate the people of Zimbabwe have given you.” He went on to commend President Mugabe for having been firm in defending the inalienable right of the people of Zimbabwe to free, democratic and sovereign governance -it would be a great tragedy for anyone to try and determine the outcome of an African election in Europe, he said. Mugabe’s firm stand was good for all of Africa. He went on: “Please accept, Excellency and Dear Brother, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.” Earlier, in Australia, President Mkapa had been quoted in the Tanzanian Guardian as saying before the election “These people want to choose presidents for our countries… .It is indeed baffling when they want the ruling party out when it comes to elections; they do not look at policies or what the ruling party has done for its people.” He expressed bewilderment at the way in which some nations, backed by their media, mounted campaigns aimed at scandalising Zimbabwe’s administration and usurping Zimbabweans freedom to elect a government of their own choice.

Leader of the 25-strong Tanzanian observer team, Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru, said that some people take elections to be free and fair when they win but if they lose it is neither free nor fair. “This is anti-democratic …..

Tanzanian members of the SADC Parliamentary Forum who went to Zimbabwe as observers disagreed with the group’s final report which had not accepted the elections as having been free and fair. The Tanzanian group comprising five MP’s led by Dr Hassy Kitine, said that they had witnessed an unexpected atmosphere of peace and tranquillity in the whole of Zimbabwe, contrary to how the situation had been reported in the Western media. “My group, throughout its stay in Zimbabwe, never heard of, or witnessed any violations of the rules of the election process,” Dr Kitine said. They had been shocked by an announcement by their colleagues after they had left Harare which denounced the elections. A full Parliamentary Forum meeting (representing members from some 160 nations) meeting shortly after the election in Capetown voted by 63 to 2 to call for new elections in Zimbabwe.

Tanzania’s opposition parties said that the election had not been free and fair. They drew parallels between the Zimbabwe election and the 2000 Zanzibar election which they said had also included alleged intimidation of voters, doubtful election registers and badly managed polling stations.

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