Opinions

Democracy?

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While there will be cries that the Gauntlet is unduly influencing the Students' Union General Election, a fine example of true aborted democracy is on display in Zimbabwe.

When laws outlawing anti-government media and campaigning by opposition parties are coupled with growing numbers of dead or beaten political opponents, it is painfully clear that no election could be legitimate. Hell, this year's SU is more democratic than Zimbabwe and that's with over 80 per cent of the positions acclaimed.

At the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Coolum, Australia, elections and related activities in Zimbabwe were front and center. British Prime Minister Tony Blair screamed bloody murder, and called for the immediate suspension of the beleaguered nation from the Commonwealth. In the end however, nothing changed.

A group comprised primarily of other African nations, including Canada, success-fully lobbied CHOGM delegates to take a "wait and see" stance. The reason for this is to see the election's ultimate outcome.

Apparently, if current President Robert Mugabe loses to his silenced opposition the world will declare the elections successful-democracy will have won. However, a victory by Mugabe will be dismissed as the result of bullying, badgering and beating opponents-democracy will have been defeated.

Am I alone in not following this logic?

The ignorant bliss inherent in declaring an election democratic based on the outcome would be laughable were it not so real. It is openly acknowledged by nearly every CHOGM delegate that very undemocratic practices are carried out by Mugabe's supporters and his party. Yet somehow, the election will be declared democratic based on its outcome, regardless of current events.

What we have here is a case of wishful thinking-an affliction all too familiar to Canadians. The "wait and see" decision, lauded by PM JC himself, is a Machiavellian international policy and sets a dangerous precedent. An ideological decision must be made: either support the proliferation of democracy or a policy of non-intervention. The two aren't always mutually compatible.

If democracy is the guiding principle then intervention in the elections is required and it is required immediately. What is currently happening in Zimbabwe is not democratic and if people of that country are allowed to believe that it is stability will be an impossibility.

However, if non-intervention is the policy-du-jour step back and let the chips fall where they may-regardless of the outcome.

In short, a conditional democracy subject to international approval would insult any other Commonwealth nation and it certainly insults the politicians in Harare. Imagine if Canada's international recognition was contingent on the outcome of our elections. What would that say about global respect for our sovereignty and competence? More importantly, how would we react to it?

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