Friday, June 20, 2008

Prominent African Leaders Publish Open Letter for Free and Fair Elections in Zimbabwe

It’s not everyday that I receive a request from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to help out with an urgent initiative to support good governance in Africa, but that’s exactly what happened on Tuesday this week. My friend Risha Chande who works for the foundation sent a message asking for help. Risha was formerly employed at Panos London and a key staffer behind the wonderful AfricaVox Project for the 2007 G8 Summit at Heiligendamm, Germany. Therefore I am breaking my 8 week pause from writing and publishing to Jewels in the Jungle in order to lend a helping hand to all of the people of Zimbabwe who are fighting for the right to free and fair elections in their country, many having to pay a heavy price with their very lives.

Mo Ibrahim Foundation* (founded by Mo Ibrahim, one of Africa’s most successful telecommunications entrepreneurs) and the Kofi Annan Foundation (I cannot seem to find anything online about a new foundation founded by the former Secretary-General of the UN) have teamed up with a long list of prominent African political, civic, and social leaders to write and publish an open letter calling for free and fair elections in the upcoming June 27th runoff poll in Zimbabwe. Among the signatories are outstanding world leaders such as the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai (Kenya), Bishop Desmond Tutu (South Africa), Professor Kwame Appiah of Princeton University (Ghana), and Anglican Church Archbishop of York, John Sentamu (Uganda).

Note*: You can read more about the
Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership at the foundation’s website. Also see the transcript from “How to Rank Good Governance: The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achivement in African Leadership” (a 2007 Bookings Institution conference) and read this 2006 article about the launch of the prize at the BBC News online.

The open letter along with other information can be found at the
Zimbabwe 27 June Campaign website ( The organizers and signatories need our help (blog authors, blog readers, and the global online community). You can visit the website and add your name to the open letter in support of this important initiative by some of Africa’s most respected leaders and scholars. If you are an online author, journalist, or simply someone who publishes stuff to your personal website on a regular basis, you should write about the Zimbabwe 27 June Campaign and include a link to the campaign’s website in your posts, news articles, or on your social networking site.

It is about time that a group of Africa’s prominent leaders, especially leaders who are truly working hard to promote democracy, good governance, and the rule of law in sub-Saharan African countries, step forward and speak out strongly against the violence and terror orchestrated by Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF goons and thugs. Zimbabwe’s neighbors including South Africa’s President
Thabo Mbeki and ANC President Jacob Zuma along with key leaders of South African Development Community member countries have been able to accomplish absolutely nothing with their so-called “soft diplomacy” toward Robert Mugabe’s reign of terror.

It is time for Mugabe and his generals to give up their death grip on the people of Zimbabwe and the people of the Southern Africa region. This man is a disgusting example of leadership and a disgrace to Africans everywhere. Mugabe and his cadre of generals and other criminals need to step down and prepare for exile in the country of one of their close allies (China is a good choice as the government in Beijing has been supporting this despotic lowlife for years).

At present the Zimbabwe opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC Party leaders are considering a possible withdrawal from the June 27th poll in the face of the mounting violence and increase of cold-blooded murder of its party members and helpless citizens all across Zimbabwe. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice turned up the heat on Robert Mugabe during a special closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council meeting on June 19th but I doubt that her attempts will amount to very much. The top UN political official, Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe, issued a statement after the UNSC meeting that the violence in Zimbabwe was “unacceptable” which is diplomatic talk meaning that the organization is prepared to do (absolutely) nothing to stop the election violence in Zimbabwe and the theft of the will the Zimbabwean people.

Below is the text from the Open Letter organized by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the Kofi Annan Foundation as it appeared in the press release of June 13, 2008:

African civil society leaders unite to call for free and fair election process in Zimbabwe

H.E. Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Wangari Maathai among those calling for an end to violence and intimidation in the run up to June 27 presidential run-off

Friday, June 13th 2008 – Prominent African leaders from across civil society are today issuing a public call for an end to violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe ahead of the presidential run-off elections at the end of the month.

In an open letter which is published today and signed by former heads of state, business leaders, academics and leading campaigners, the group calls for appropriate conditions to be met so that the second round of the presidential election is conducted in a peaceful and transparent manner that allows the citizens of Zimbabwe to express freely their political will.

Civil society groups and individual citizens are invited to counter-sign the letter at a special website

The full text of the letter says:

It is crucial for the interests of both Zimbabwe and Africa that the upcoming elections are free and fair.

Zimbabweans fought for liberation in order to be able to determine their own future. Great sacrifices were made during the liberation struggle. To live up to the aspirations of those who sacrificed, it is vital that nothing is done to deny the legitimate expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

As Africans we consider the forthcoming elections to be critical. We are aware of the attention of the world. More significantly we are conscious of the huge number of Africans who want to see a stable, democratic and peaceful Zimbabwe.

Consequently, we are deeply troubled by the current reports of intimidation, harassment and violence. It is vital that the appropriate conditions are created so that the Presidential run-off is conducted in a peaceful, free and fair manner. Only then can the political parties conduct their election campaigning in a way that enables the citizens to express freely their political will.

In this context, we call for an end to the violence and intimidation, and the restoration of full access for humanitarian and aid agencies.

To this end it will be necessary to have an adequate number of independent electoral observers, both during the election process and to verify the results.

Whatever the outcome of the election, it will be vital for all Zimbabweans to come together in a spirit of reconciliation to secure Zimbabwe’s future.

We further call upon African leaders at all levels – pan-African, regional and national - and their institutions to ensure the achievement of these objectives.

The signatories are:

Abdusalami Alhaji Abubakar - Former President of Nigeria (1998-1999)

Kofi Annan - Former Secretary-General of the United Nations (1997-2007), Nobel Laureate and member of The Elders

Professor Kwame Appiah - Laurence S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University

Boutros Boutros-Ghali - Former Secretary-General of the United Nations (1992-1997)

Lakhdar Brahimi - Former United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq and South Africa, member of The Elders

Pierre Buyoya - Former President of Burundi (1987-1993, 1996-2003)

Joaquim Chissano - Former President of Mozambique (1986-2005)

Achmat Dangor - Author and Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund

John Githongo - Former Permanent Secretary for Governance and Ethics in Kenya

Richard Goldstone - Former Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa

Mo Ibrahim - Founder of Celtel International and Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation

Sam Jonah - Former Chief Executive of the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation

William Kalema - Chairman of the Uganda Investment Authority

Kenneth David Kaunda - Former President of Zambia (1964 - 1991)

Angelique Kidjo - Musician and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

Wangari Maathai - Founder of the Green Belt Movement and Nobel Laureate

Graça Machel - President of the Foundation for Community Development and member of The Elders

Thabo Cecil Makgoba - Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town

Ketumile Masire - Former President of Botswana (1980-1998)

Moeletsi Mbeki - Deputy Chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs

Benjamin William Mkapa - Former President of Tanzania (1995-2005)

Festus Mogae - Former President of Botswana (1998-2008)

António Mascarenhas Monteiro - Former President of Cape Verde (1991-2001)

Elson Bakili Muluzi - Former President of Malawi (1994-2004)

Ali Hassan Mwinyi - Former President of Tanzania (1985-1995)

Kumi Naidoo - Secretary General of CIVICUS

Domitien Ndayizeye - Former President of Burundi (2003 - 2005)

Babacar Ndiaye - Former President of the African Development Bank

Youssou N'Dour -
Musician and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

Njongonkulu Ndungane - Former Archbishop of Cape Town and Founder of the African Monitor

Moustapha Niasse - Former Prime Minister of Senegal (1983, 2000-2001)

Loyiso Nongxa - Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand

Karl Offmann - Former President of Mauritius (2002-2003)

Mamphela Ramphele - Former Managing Director of the World Bank and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town

Jerry John Rawlings - Former President of Ghana (1993-2001)

Johann Rupert - Chairman of Remgro Limited

Mohammed Sahnoun - Former UN/OAU Special Representative for the Great Lakes region of Africa and former Assistant Secretary-General of the OAU

Salim Ahmed Salim - Former Prime Minister of Tanzania (1994-1995) and former Secretary-General of the OAU (1989-2001)

John Sentamu - Archbishop of York
Nicéphore Dieudonné Soglo - Former President of Benin (1991-1996)

Miguel Trovoada - Former President of São Tomé and Príncipe (1991-2001)

Desmond Tutu - Nobel Laureate and Chairman of The Elders

Cassam Uteem - Former President of Mauritius (1992-2002)

Zwelinzima Vavi - General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions

Joseph Sinde Warioba - Former Prime Minister of Tanzania (1985-1990)

Notes to editors:

All the signatories are African and have added their signatures in a personal capacity rather than in their organisational role

The public are invited to endorse the letter at the following website:

This is an African initiative supported by an African Foundation, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation

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1 comment:

Koluki said...

What a great come back!