'Prime Minister Gordon Brown Pulling Strings in Zimbabwe'

Caesar Zvayi - The Herald, Zimbabwe

British government ministers and prime minister, Gordon Brown, have now come out in the open as the real power behind the
opposition Morgan Tsvangirai Movement for Democratic Change faction, demanding the release of the results of Zimbabwe's elections that show an MDC victory.

Almost the entire British state machinery - from the BBC to its House of Commons - has been almost going hysterical over the delay in announcing the election results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Britain's three main political parties united in urging Brown to approach South African President Thabo Mbeki to press him  ' 'to deal with the crisis in Zimbabwe''.

It was these three British parties that set up the so-called Westminster Fund for Democracy that bankrolled the launch of the MDC from a ZCTU platform in September 1999 after the Government announced it would compulsorily acquire white-held farms for redistribution to landless black families.

Brown told the BBC that the "eyes of the world" are on Zimbabwe, saying the election results should be published without delay.

Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg urged Brown to increase pressure for a "swift and transparent" declaration of results, even though ZEC has been hailed by observer missions for the manner in which it conducted the election and managed the release of the results.

"Gordon Brown must seek urgent discussions with Thabo Mbeki and other leaders of the Southern African Development Community to ensure that maximum pressure is applied to ensure a swift and transparent declaration of results," Clegg said.

Brown's office said the British premier had discussed  ' 'the situation'' with President Mbeki on Monday, but would not give details of the talks.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and former Labour cabinet minister Peter Hain called on Africa and the rest of the world to express their support for the MDC.

Miliband told the BBC's Newsnight programme: "It is long overdue for the rest of the world to stand shoulder to shoulder with the spirit of democracy which has expressed itself in Zimbabwe and which is now about to be traduced by President Mugabe and his ruling clique."

At a meeting in Paris, foreign ministers from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain issued a joint statement, along with Milliband, saying: "We call on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to swiftly announce all the election results, especially the results of the presidential election. The future of the Zimbabwean people depends on the credibility and transparency of the electoral process."

The BBC said Brown's spokesman had hinted at possible increases in aid for Zimbabwe in the event Tsvangirai wins.

Zimbabwe's election results have become a top story on all international media networks, drawing far more attention than Kenya was accorded when over 1 500 people were hacked or speared to death while 600 000 others were displaced following the disputed re-election of incumbent president Mwai Kibaki on December 27 last year.

Given the intimate relationship between the global media structures, Western politics and the quest for world domination, analysts say this vindicates the view that what is at stake in Zimbabwe is far bigger than what the contestants, with the notable exception of those in Zanu-PF, realise.

A view vindicated by the conspicuous flow of many white former commercial farmers who trooped back into Zimbabwe once the MDC prematurely claimed victory. Some of them have headed to the farms where they threatened to evict newly resettled farmers particularly around Chegutu and Kariba, as many are coming through Chirundu Border Post.

Zimbabwe, the analysts say, represents the last frontier of resistance between the black nationalist struggle and Western neo-colonial encroachment under the guise of globalisation and the parochial discourse of democratisation

Following the Government's decision to bar all news networks hostile to Zimbabwe from covering the elections, many of them are encamped right round the borders with flushed correspondents giving feverish coverage to all sorts of conspiracy theories and utterances by the opposition and its allies.

The BBC, the public face of British foreign policy, yesterday devoted the entire day to non-stop coverage of Zimbabwe before splashing hourly updates to claims of electoral victory by the MDC. The BBC, in fact, dispatched its main news anchor to report from Johannesburg.

Yesterday all major news networks ran hourly updates on Zimbabwe eclipsing even US President George W. Bush's visit to Europe for a Nato conference that is supposed to resolve some contentious issues between the world's major military powers.

What has raised eyebrows is the fact that the Western leaders are basing their premature pronouncements on results compiled by the MDC and its civil society compatriots, yet ZEC  — the only organisation legally and constitutionally mandated to issue the results  — has not declared a winner, let alone the winner of the presidential contest.

What makes the pronouncements from the West even more glaring is that African leaders, many of whom have a lot to gain or lose from the political dynamics in Zimbabwe, have not spoken, obviously waiting to issue their statements once the full outcome is in the public domain.