How the West helped Mugabe to win the 2013 Zimbabwe elections


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The West was shocked when Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leader Robert Mugabe won the 2013 presidential and parliamentary elections securing a 61 percent poll while his party won a two-thirds majority in the lower house.

While the West has rejected the result, it unwittingly contributed to Mugabe’s victory.

The 2013 elections were a contest between liberalisation and indigenisation.

They pitted 61-year-old Movement for Democratic Change leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai against 89-year-old Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leader and President Robert Mugabe who has been in power for the past 33 years.

Tsvangirai promised a new, young leadership, greater democracy and to transform the country, creating one million jobs in five years.

Mugabe promised to consolidate his fast track land reform programme under which some 245 000 people were resettled after initially invading white-owned farms and to indigenise the economy by giving locals a stake in the 1 138 foreign-owned companies in the country.

The West has been fighting for more than a decade to get Mugabe to retire and has been financing Tsvangirai. But this time, they did not provide enough funding to finance his campaign.

Though they wanted change, it appears the West believed that Zimbabweans would just reject Mugabe because he was too old, has been in power too long and was incapable of turning around the economy.

They also believed in the “black disaster” myth that surrounded the land reform programme unaware that it had become a huge success and people preferred farming to working for someone else.

They also ignored the paradigm shift that was brought about by hyperinflation. Most Zimbabweans now believe in working for themselves than in being employed because they realised that you could starve with a full-time job.

The demonization of Mugabe as a tyrannical dictator has backfired. People, across the region and the continent, now regard him as a hero because he is one of the few people that has stood up against the West which is bullying everyone across the globe.

Though polls by United States organisations like Freedom House indicated that Mugabe was gaining popularity, no one imagined the magnitude of this change in thinking.

The world was shocked when Mugabe won 61 percent of the vote in the 31 July elections. His party, which had 99 seats in 2008, shot up to 160 while Tsvangirai’s MDC dropped from 100 seats to 49.

Complacency by the West and perhaps a belief in their own propaganda helped Mugabe to pull off one of his biggest election victories- a victory that could convince him to retire- happy that he has delivered the land, the economy, and an overwhelming victory for his party that Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said could ensure that his party can rule for another 100 years unless the opposition changes tact.

This is the introduction of a 9 400 word (18-page) article on How the West helped Mugabe to win the 2013 Zimbabwe elections which is now available as a kindle book.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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