Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum Canada

April 17, 2008 19:10 ET

Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum Canada: Vancouver Rally & March on April 18 to Protest Chaos on Zimbabwe Independence Day

Zimbabwe's 28th Independence Day is marred by violence, as Robert Mugabe refuses to accept defeat in presidential elections. The one-time liberator of Zimbabwe has become its vicious oppressor and is destroying it.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - April 17, 2008) - Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum Canada and its allies will rally on Friday, April 18 at 4:30 at Vancouver Art Gallery (West Georgia Street plaza) then, at 5:45 PM will march to Simon Fraser University's Harbour Centre Campus at 555 West Hastings Street, Room 1800, for a public forum from 6:30 until 8:30 pm to protest President Mugabe's refusal to accept his defeat in the March 29 Zimbabwe elections. Speakers include Hon. Dr Keith Martin MP, Don Wright of Amnesty International and Canaan Mhlanga.

Unrest and vicious repression are growing with the refusal of the ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) to release the March 29, 2008 Presidential election results. Nowhere in the history of mankind has a country's election result been such a closely guarded secret.

ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front), in power for the past 28 years with one leader Robert Gabriel Mugabe (84), lost control of the House of Assembly to the opposition MDC (Movement for Democratic Change). Mugabe has presided over the collapse of an economy once acclaimed as the "bread basket" of Africa. Inflation is now the highest in the world at over 165,000%; unemployment is at 85%; life expectancy has decreased to 37 for men and 34 for women. Over 85% of industries have closed, shops are empty and the once thriving agricultural sector has been reduced to mere subsistence farming. Mugabe clings to power by waging a reign of terror.

Mugabe called for elections three months ago to catch the opposition by surprise as it squabbled with internal divisions, but despite the opposition's lack of access to the only public media - newspapers and the state radio and TV stations - and a voters' list padded with ghost voters, the results surprised him. In desperation he is holding back announcement of the results. Theories about his motives include:

1. Mugabe hopes the delay in announcing the results will provoke mass uprisings, which will justify unleashing the army and creating a permanent state of emergency during which he could extend his presidential term indefinitely regardless of having lost the election.

2. Holding back election results may allow Mugabe to negotiate an exit package for himself with the MDC before it gets into power. Top on the list of his demands is immunity against prosecution for his crimes against humanity.

3. Army General Constantine Chiwenga, Chief Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and Zimbabwe Prison Commissioner Major General Paradzai Zimondi (ret.) declared just before the election that they would not salute anyone but Mugabe. They and his other top henchmen in ZANU-PF are said to be pressing Mugabe to not step down to protect them from losing their ill-gotten loot and to protect themselves from prosecution for atrocities.

Most of us Zimbabweans living in British Columbia fled the murderous Mugabe regime. Some escaped his Gukurahundi (clean out chaff) ethnic massacres that killed about 20,000 people in 1983.

We Zimbabweans living in BC are marching to voice our condemnation of Mugabe's crimes. We call upon the international community to pressure Mugabe to gracefully accept defeat, free political prisoners, end torture, and restore freedom of the press.

See Amnesty International: http://www.amnesty.ca/themes/zimbabwe_overview.php

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