Thursday, 21 April 2016

Keeping rigging shenanigans secret is Mugabe's soft underbelly - one MDC has failed to attack. By Patrick Guramatunhu

Zimbabwe’s next elections, set for 2018, will be won and lost on the four main fronts:

1) Who can amass the most funds

As the incumbent government, Zanu PF will commandeers all the state human and material resources for use in its election campaign. In Zimbabwe, like many other African countries, the difference between the ruling party and government is very blurred and so it normal for army helicopters to be used transport party officials, national solos to be raided and the food distributed at party rallies and even plant and machinery sourced and pay for using public funds distributed to the party faithful as has been happening at Grace Mugabe’s recent rallies.


Zanu PF is known for punishing the opposition supporters by denying them access to public food and other assistance. The party is known for stopping foreign donors helping the needy because they would not abide by the party’s rules of denying opposition supporters. Teachers and other public servants have been dismissed for supporting the opposition.


During the GNU Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, complain of Zanu PF running a parallel government complete with its own funding. There is no doubt that huge expense of running this phantom government is borne by the taxpayer directly through swindled public funds or indirectly through the looting of national treasures.


Whilst Minister Biti had to scrounge around to get enough to pay civil servants wages let alone do anything else, the Zanu PF parallel government was loaded as soon revealed during the 2013 elections. President Mugabe millions of dollars of outstanding President Scholarship fees in various Universities in SA; he bought each Zanu PF election candidate a brand new car plus tens of thousands of dollar in election expense, costing hundreds of millions of dollars; etc. Opposition candidates were on a shoestring budget!   


2) Whoever has unfettered control of the state institutions will be able to manipulate the electoral process in their favour

Zimbabwe’s new constitution failed to take away the President’s power appoint and dismiss all the top brass in the Police, Army, CIO, ZEC, Judiciary, Public Media, etc.; it is therefore not surprising that all these important institutions have all saved President Mugabe and Zanu PF’s selfish interest at the expense of the nation’s interest, especially during elections. ZEC has turned a blind eye to Zanu PF blatant disregard of its legal obligation to produce a voters roll and the Police have done nothing to stop Zanu PF instigated violence.


Indeed in the 2018 elections it was the Police, Army and CIO who coordinated the wanton violence against the opposition and reportedly carried out most of the abductions and murders!

3) Intimidation and violence to induce fear remains the not effective vote rigging tool, especially in the rural areas.

Professor Jonathan Moyo was right in saying in his book, Voting for Democracy, that the 1980 elections was about voting “to end the civil war”. Anyone who thought the people’s fear the civil war would continue if Zanu PF had lost those election was unfounded was proven wrong when President Mugabe unleashed the barbaric Gikurahundi murderers a few years later.


Zimbabwe’s culture of political intolerance and the tendency to view one’s political opponent as one’s enemy dates back to the pre-independence days; fighting between Zanu and Zapu supporters, for example, was a common occurrence. The people were caught between the two and, to on the safe side, it was normal for povo to have membership cards of both parties which they kept up to date at great expense.


Ever since the nation attained her independence Zanu PF has maintained its strangle hold on the nation by using state and party machinery to remind the people that the party can make their lives hell if they did not tow party line. Fear has always been there in Zimbabwe body politics and, at present, Zanu PF pulls all the strings!

4) It is not enough to blatantly rigging elections, one must also be able to get away with it and that demands good intelligence and counter intelligence.

The fear that the opposition has detailed information of his vote rigging schemes and there release to the whole world will expose him for the cheat must be one of President Mugabe’s greatest fears. After the 2013 rigged elections President Mugabe did not come out to celebrate as one would have expected; he had to be 100% sure Tsvangirai’s court challenge of the result was going nowhere and no other vote rigging dirty was coming out. The vote rigging leak could start from anyone and quickly become the Tsunami sweep all before it.


Elections, by their very nature, are public events taking place at national level; and so rigging elections is a huge challenge and tougher still is making sure the vote rigging details are kept under tight wraps! So rigging the elections and keeping the dirty tactics a secret is the soft underbelly of Zanu PF’s otherwise well-armed and well-armoured vote rigging juggernaut. President Mugabe has had to implement some dare-devil vote rigging tactics dangerously exposing his political soft underbelly.


In 1990 he increased the number of polling stations without telling the opposition who were surprised to know there had been so many as the number of ballot boxes exceeded the known polling station. President Mugabe must have known he would not get away with that one again. So in the 2013 elections President Mugabe announce the increase of polling station from 2 000 to 9 000 just two days before the elections. Some election observers reported of polling stations manned by Zanu PF officials only and no opposition party officials or even ZEC officials!


The most audacious move by President Mugabe in the 2013 elections has to be the tampering with the voters roll by NIKUV, the Israeli company, so that one million were denied the vote because they details were not in the constituency voters roll they expected them to be. President Mugabe stubbornly refused to release the voters roll although this is a legal required and got away with it too!


Yes President Mugabe has proven to be a cunning fox still he must also thank his lucky stars that he has had some breathtakingly incompetent political opponents whom he was able to cheat in broad daylight and still get away with it. Given that he will be facing Tsvangirai and Mai Mujuru in the next elections my money is on President Mugabe out foxing the two, as he has done repeatedly in the past!


There only way to effectively stop all Zanu PF election shenanigans and getting away with murder, literally, is for the nation to implement the far reaching democratic reforms designed to under the party’s dictatorial control over state institutions and open the window to public scrutiny of public finance and use of the nation’s resources such as diamonds.  


If it was not for the fact that there is so much at stake in ensuring the next elections are free and fair; it would be laughable that Mai Mujuru and her ZimPF are claiming they are ready for 2018 elections when they have done nothing to stop Zanu PF rigging the elections! Tsvangirai and his MDC friends were equally confident of winning the 2013 although they too had failed to implement even one reform and we know Zanu PF went on to blatantly rig those elections.

Zimbabwe’s ability to end the 90% plus unemployment rate, to rebuild its barely functioning health and education services, to restore clean running water and electricity supplies, etc. hinge on the nation holding free, fair and credible elections and having a good and competent government after the 2018 elections. The people of Zimbabwe will certainly be naïve to trust Tsvangirai or Mujuru to implement the democratic reforms and deliver free and fair elections!


  1. If we agree that the voters roll was the smoking gun in how Zanu PF had rigged the 2013 elections and, it seems the party was well aware of this hence the reason why it stubbornly refused to make the voters roll public I would say it was not the “soft underbelly” of the regime which MDC could have attacked. How can they attack the regime without the voters roll, the smoking gun.

    Even if MDC had meticulously amasses a lot of evidence of how Zanu PF had rigged the elections the MDC would still have an mountain to climb to make effective use of the evidence given that it would be judges appointed by President Mugabe who will have the final say on the matter.

    Yes President Mugabe worries about his opponents getting to know his vote rigging dirty tactics but I would not agree that this constitute the “soft underbelly” of the beast!

    I would not be surprised that President Mugabe has his spies in MDC and ZimPF right now whose primary task would be counter intelligence. If the opposition was ever to challenge election results on the grounds Zanu PF rigged the vote the spies will be there to feed the opposition with wrong details which then found to be wrong and thus discredit the whole case.

    The truth is Zanu PF has so much leeway to rig elections and get away with it; the real big question is why are the opposition agreeing to take part in elections knowing from the word go the process is unfair. This is like taking part in a game of cards knowing fully well the whole deck of cards is loaded in the opponent’s favour.

    Zimbabwe’s opposition parties are so incompetent that they have been cheated time and time again but they still continue to take part hoping against hope that they will not be cheated this time!

    1. It will take a really clever and determined opposition to bring the regime down on the grounds that it rigged the elections and neither Tsvangirai nor Mujuru can ever be that opposition!

    2. I hear what you are saying Nomusa and agree with it but only in the context of our corrupt, incompe-tent and hopeless inapt opposition parties. We should not forget than Zanu PF rigged the 1995 Harare South parliamentary elections and Margaret Dongo, the opposition victim, successfully challenged the result. Zanu PF had bussed in people from outside the constituency to vote. Dongo got signed statement from some of these people confirmed they did not live in the constituency and they had been instructed to go and vote. A close examination of the voters roll showed that a number of dead people had their names crossed out showing they had "voted"!

      No doubt Zanu PF has upped the vote rigging game but still there are many opportunities to challenge the system. There was no reason why MDC did not comply a comprehensive list of all those who had been denied the vote because their details were not in the voters roll, for example. This becomes partic-ularly significant where the winning margin is less than the number of those refused the vote. It must then be pointed out these people would have made sure they were registered to vote if the government had released the voters roll a month before the elections as it is legally obliged to do.

      President Mugabe knows fully well that rigging elections is high treason and trust me he is worried even now that one day his treachery will be revealed. He has been lucky so far that the country's oppo-sition leaders are only interested in getting back on the gravy train and thus have no focus or vision on the bigger picture of creating a free and democratic Zimbabwe.

      MDC should have picked just one or two constituencies in the 2013 elections and made sure they knew everything about everyone who voted and was refused the vote in those constituencies. As I said na-tional elections are a very public event even President Mugabe cannot bus in hundreds of thousands voters and expect to conceal the evidence.

      MDC did not challenge the results of the blatantly rigged 2013 elections not because they had no evi-dence but because they lacked the political vision!

  2. I have long stopped feeling sorry for corrupt and incompetent leaders like Tsvangirai when they are cheated, they knowing went ahead and take part in an election process in which they knew they will be cheated. The people I feel sorry for is the MDC supporters who continue to follow failed leaders blindly; they are the ones who get been harassed and beaten by the regime's thugs.

    I also feel sorry for the ordinary people whose freedoms and human rights have been denied all these years and who are at the coal face of the economic meltdown.

    What is very disappointing here is the solution, implementing the reforms, is within the people's reach, it is common sense but with this lot there is no such thing as common sense!

  3. @ Manyethu

    I have heard of pig-headed and pedantic arguments that take one round and round in circle; this is certain-ly one of the worst I have heard.

    “Is it the responsibility of few top opposition leaders to end dictatorship or its everybody’s responsibility/ Only a fool can blame one person for something which should be done by all citizens, blaming few indi-viduals it’s a sign of shallow think.”

    Leaders are elected by the people to carry out certain tasks on their behalf that is the essence of govern-ment by the people for the people. Tsvangirai and his MDC friends were elected on the promise they will bring democratic change, they had the golden opportunity to do so during the GNU by implementing the democratic reforms agreed in the GPA. They failed to get even one reform implemented because they are incompetent and corrupt. President Mugabe bribed MDC leaders with the gravy train lifestyles plus a $4 million mansion for Tsvangirai to do nothing about the reforms.

    Of course MDC leaders were incompetent, corrupt and they sold-out! Of course we should blame them for this particularly since the nation is now in a serious mess as a result.

    Tsvangirai and MDC leaders’ betrayal are a matter of historic record it is disappointing that anyone who still be struggling to get their heads round this. What is worse is that the fool who has clearly failed to understand the grade one stuff should have the temerity to call those who at University level compared to them fools and shallow!

    If you do not understand what elected leaders can and cannot do then morons like you should not be al-lowed to vote, period!

  4. There is no need for the opposition taking Mugabe on in the present electoral system, the case to abolishing the dicta-torship itself is compelling.

    When 90% of our people are out of work and living in abject poverty and millions are starving even when there is no drought not because the nation is poor or the land impoverished. Zimbabwe is blessed with riches and a hardworking people; the nation is poor because its many riches and resources are wasted through gross mismanaged and rampant corruption.

    Before 2000, this country not only produced enough food to feed all our people but had plenty left over to be the region's breadbasket. We also excelled in the production of quality tobacco and other cash crops contributing to the prosperity of the nation. Since 2000 the country’s agricultural production has all but collapsed following the seizure of commercial farms in an orgy of violence to give them to the few ruling elite mainly. The insatiable greed of our leaders has now put us in the unenviable position of starving in the Garden of Eden!

    After 36 years of relentless economic decline and brutal political oppression, we can no longer pretend this is the Zimbabwe the nation had dreamt of throughout the struggle of independence and for which many suffered and thou-sands died for. We can no longer pretend the economic hardship and political chaos are a temporary setback there is a brighter day round the corner. The economic meltdown and political chaos are set to get worse as long as we maintain our present course.

    To end the economic meltdown we must end the criminal waste of human and material resources through misman-agement and corruption and to do that we need competent and accountable leaders. The present political system of tyrannical dictatorship has produced corrupt and incompetent leaders, we must dismantle the system and replace it with a democratic system in which the freedoms and human rights of all are guaranteed including the right to free and fair elections.

  5. For the record, if there are no meaningful democratic reforms BEFORE the 2018 elections then Presi-dent Mugabe will rig the elections and take his chance that he will get away with it yet again. However Mai Mujuru or Tsvangirai can force Zanu PF to concede defeat if they do take advantage of Zanu PF’s soft underbelly weakness. What people must remember here is a Zanu PF victory or opposition victory will be a matter of indifference to the nation because the people would have been denied a meaningful free, fair and democratic vote in the election itself and, worst of all, the nation will NOT have a compe-tent and accountable government the nation needs so desperately!

    The opposition is composed of corrupt and incompetent leaders and so too is Zanu PF which is why implementing the democratic reforms before the 2018 elections is critical because that is the only way the nation is going flush out the failed leaders at the top. And whoever wins those elections will not be interested in implementing the democratic changes but rather consolidate their own hold on power by adapting the dictatorship to ensure the inherent vote rigging advantages for them next time!

    In other words if no democratic reforms have been implemented BEFORE the 2018 elections the election battle has already been lost as far as the nation is concerned; the only thing left to settle is which of the corrupt and incompetent side will rule after the rigged elections.