Monday, 14 November 2016

We need NTA to deliver free and fair elections - forerunner to economic recovery. By W Mukori

In his article “Biti’s NTA a pointless idea for a fruitless exercise” Whitlaw Mugwiji has made an attempt to convince the readers on why he thinks the NTA is a “fruitless exercise” as he stated in the title. Sadly the whole article was a litany of wrong assumptions, misreading the historic facts and realities, etc. leading to the inevitable wrong conclusions.

Let me start by stating that the primary purpose of the NTA is to implement ALL the democratic reforms to ensure Zimbabwe’s next elections are free, fair and credible. But given Zimbabwe’s serious economic hardships and the collapse of basic services such as health and education, the need for clean water, etc. the NTA will have no choice but to take on some economic stabilization duties too during the transition period.

Mugwiji told us why, he believed, we needed the NTA.

Biti and a few other intellectuals are saying that Zanu PF cannot be defeated through elections under the current conditions. They also think that the opposition is too weak to demand electoral reforms or to mount a credible challenge against Zanu PF in 2018,” he wrote.

If these were the true reasons why we needed the NTA then I too would agree 100% with why Mugabe and Zanu PF will never agree to any meaningful political reforms that will result in free, fair and credible elections. Mugabe and everyone in Zanu PF know they will never win free, fair and credible elections so, naturally, they will resist any moves likely to lead to them losing their iron grip on power.

There are four reasons why we need the NTA and each feeds back on the other in a closed loop each reinforcing the other:

a)     Like it or not Zimbabwe is stuck in a dangerous economic meltdown fuelled by decades of gross mismanagement, rampant corruption and lawlessness that has made it near impossible to carry out any lawful economic activity. Unemployment has soared to 90% plus; government cannot even raise enough revenue to pay civil servants’ wages let alone everything else; Looting has reached nauseating heights of $15 billion with no one arrested; we will have bond notes soon bringing back the days of the hyperinflation; etc.; etc. Zimbabwe’s economic situation is economically, socially and politically unsustainable.

b)    When Zanu PF rigged the 2013 elections the party thought it would rig economic recovery too with its $27 billion ZimAsset plan. No one, not even the Chinese, would bankroll the plan they all knew that without meaningful reforms end the three cancers state in a) above. The only meaningful reforms to cure the nation of the mismanagement, corruption and lawlessness will have to be wide ranging democratic reforms and the ultimate proof the reforms were carried out properly is the nation holding free, fair and credible elections.

c)     The ordinary people of Zimbabwe have right to a decent job, health services, clean running water, etc. and to a government that is responsive to their needs and expectations. In other words, the people’s increasing demand for economic rights is dove-tailing with their demands for free, fair and credible elections.

It is clear that this Zanu PF regime will want to go into the next elections without even one reform implemented for various reasons which I would not go into. What matters here is that Zanu PF will face the same challenge of having to rig economic recovery or be damned –  exactly the same situation it faced after rigging the 2013 elections only the economic situation will be even worse and even Mugabe will know that no one will want to hear about ZimAsset Mark2!

The key point to note in b) above is that Zanu PF cannot implement the democratic reforms that will culminate in free, fair and credible elections and thus its political demise as noted above; this should be obvious and go without saying. And yet this has been one of the point completely missed and/or misunderstood by many, many people about the 2008 GPA and the GNU.
“Expecting the AU and SADC to play a significant role in the NTA is contrary to reason. I thought Tendai Biti at least learned something during the GPA negotiation which were facilitated by AU,” wrote Mugwiji.
“Let me put it bluntly, the AU and SADC are neither interested in democracy nor in regime change. Their philosophy is plain and simple ‘they believe in the sovereignty of each individual state and in the case of conflict within the state they believe in peace at whatever cost’.” Wrong!

SADC leaders had their faults and made many mistakes but the one thing the regional body was committed in was making sure Zimbabwe had meaningful democratic change resulting in free, fair and credible elections and avoid a repeat of rigged and violent elections of 2008. The 2008 GPA gave a list of democratic reforms plus drafting a new democratic constitution the as prerequisite for free, fair and credible elections. The Zimbabwe partners in the GNU were tasked to implemented the reforms and draft the new constitution.

Of the three partners in the GNU, SADC was never under any illusions that Mugabe and his Zanu PF cronies would much prefer to have not even one democratic reform implemented during the GNU and as for the new constitution Mugabe would prefer a new constitution giving him dictatorial powers. SADC leaders expected the two MDC factions in the GNU to implement the reforms and draft a democratic constitution.

It is a matter of historic record that SADC leaders reminded Tsvangirai and his MDC friends on many occasion during the GNU to implement the democratic reforms but were ignored. SADC leaders pleaded with MDC leaders not to take part in the 2013 elections with no reform in place but again their warning was ignored. A number of MDC leaders like Samuel Sipepa Nkomo have admitted MDC was warned.

As for the new constitution, Zanu PF PM, Paul Mangwana, has boasted that Mugabe “dictated” the document. Tsvangirai claimed the new constitution was an “MDC Child” and that it would deliver free, fair and credible elections. Even he admitted the 2013 elections were rigged!

We would not need the NTA if MDC had implemented the reforms during the GNU when they had the support of SADC, as the guarantor of the GPA.

The complete failure by even people like Whitlaw Mugwiji, well-read intellectuals and opinion-makers, to grasp the basic idea that it was MDC leaders’ responsibility to implement the reforms during the GNU and that they failed because they are corrupt and incompetent is a complete mystery.  Even with the benefit of hindsight and three years of knocking at the door; there is still not a flicker of brain cell activity!

“If the opposition is serious in its quest to remove Mugabe and Zanu PF from power, then it must come together without fail,” concluded Mugwiji. “They must sign a MOU with one another and start organising protests, demanding clearly stated electoral reforms. Blur, blur, blur!”

Physical Mugwiji is awake but mentally he is fast asleep. If he was awake then he would have long realised most of the opposition leaders he talking about already have a proven track record as corrupt and incompetent. Of course it is an exercise in futility to elect and once again entrust someone like of Tsvangirai to implement the same reforms when he has already failed to get even one reform implemented during the GNU.

Zanu PF will probably rig the next elections but that will only delay the end of the regime by a few more months making the end much more torturous for the regime and the people alike. But be rest assured regime change is coming!

The opposition, such as it is, squabble noisily amount themselves over nothing. Come election many of them will take part and fight over the few seats Zanu PF always throws at them to keep them interested. They will be harassed, beaten, etc. (I only wish these Zanu PF thugs would target opposition members only and leave the innocent people out of it) and they will complain and moan, the usual stuff.

The fourth and, without doubt, most important reason why we need the NTA:

d)    The NTA will create the political space and time to allow ordinary people to recover from the decades of brainwashing and political tyranny, create the necessary environment for freedom of expression, free debate and democratic competition. Out of this fertile democratic, free and dynamic society quality leaders will emerge who can then assume leadership position and carry the nation forward.

It is in SADC’s interest to see a stable and democratic Zimbabwe, the worsen economic meltdown and political chaos is slowing down development and destabilizing the whole region. The only reason SADC have not step in since the 2013 elections is because they did not see any credible opposition leaders they could work with. They would not want to be harnessed with Tsvangirai again, not after the GNU nightmare!

The pressure for Zanu PF to accept change is from the worsen economic situation. “It is the economy, stupid!” as President Billl Clinton once said!

Regime change, the dreaded phrase in Zanu PF circles, is now as certain as a ripe mango falling!  


  1. Wilbert, you could have taken the argument here even further back; instead of talking of people like Mugwiji's failure to appreciate it was for MDC leaders not Zanu PF to implement the reforms they failed to appreciate what these reforms were let alone why they had to be implemented.

    People like Mugwiji and even the political leaders themselves, people like Tsvangirai, Biti, Ncube, Mujuru, etc. they will complain and moan about elections being rigged and how the political playing field in not level but only to justify why they lost the elections. They will never put any serious effort in identifying how the elections are rigged with a view to put any end to the vote rigging; their top priority is always to see if they can win the elections regardless of the vote rigging. When you are as naive and gullible as Tsvangirai with the intellect of a five year old who cannot comprehend the idea of a loaded dice; you are in eternal optimist, you believe you can win no matter what!

    As far as Mugwiji is concerned the opposition will – not can or may but will – win 2018 election all they have to do is “come together without fail”. He admitted in his article of the serious shortcoming in the opposition camp, they cannot even agree on what electoral reforms are needed within their own party and there are as many as 50 political parties out there. But that is no matter what matters here is that they all “come together without fail”. Even if one was to bring them together and let’s assume that they do win the elections, will they ever agree on anything other than a bloated cabinet to accommodate all the presidents of each of the 50 parties and the generous salaries and allowance all round.

    People like Mugwiji will never ever believe that MDC failed the nation during the GNU because they will never see implementing the reforms as something that needs to be done. MDC was elected on a ticket to bring democratic change but if the party was to win the elections regardless of all the Zanu PF shenanigans and violence that is all that matters!

    Opposition parties and even individuals like Mugwiji do not understand why we need free and fair elections as long as we get Mugabe out of office! Without free and fair elections they have made the task of getting Mugabe out of office comparable to putting the bell on the cat. For the last 36 years they have been out there scheming how this could be done, I have a feeling this will take forever. Zimbabwe will never ever have free, fair and credible elections! Not that we deserve anything other than the eternal chaos we have right now!

  2. @ Mugwiji

    So you admit that the opposition is in "disarray". Do not be fooled by appearance, the opposition have kept their word and boycotted by-elections only because they are all broke, all their donors deserted them in droves after their failure to implement even one reform during the GNU. Has it ever occurred to you the opposition is in disarray and have been deserted by their donors because they are corrupt and incompetent! Or that does not matter as long as they "come together without fail". Your eternal optimism is admirable if it was not so naive and childish.

    The GNU was supposed to implement the democratic reforms and dismantle the Zanu PF dictatorship so that we can have free and fair elections. The MDC leaders sold-out and failed to get not even one reform implemented. The NTA is nothing but GNU mark2 whose purpose is to implement the reforms and deliver the free and fair election. If you can propose another mechanism, then let's hear it.

    What matters here is that we dismantle the dictatorship and hold free and fair election because that is our only ticket out of this hell.

    MDC-T has the dominant party in the 2013 elections but they failed to win the elections because Zanu PF rigged the vote. So how will uniting the opposition stop Zanu PF rigging the vote again? Just because a divided opposition has divided the vote in some situations does not mean that is all that is at play in Zimbabwe! Tsvangirai won 73% of the vote in March 2008 by President Mugabe's own admission but after six weeks of cooking the result that was thinned to 47%.

    There is a lot more at play in Zimbabwe's election that uniting the opposition's vote alone will not address! It is you who must wake up and smell the humus!

  3. Expelled Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association spokesperson Douglas Mahiya confirmed that when they struck a deal with President Mugabe for each war to receive $50,000 there was an agreement that they were to receive $500,000 each back-dated to 1980.

    It is all about greed what each can get of the looted wealth! Zimbabwe's war veterans, counting the disbanded, those still in positions of power like parastatals, security services, government and cabinet have fleeced the nation more than any other war veterans in human history! It is no surprise that povo are worse off politically and economically than they were under Ian Smith!

  4. It is really disappointed that 36 years after our independence in those years we have seen Zanu PF rig one election after another. We have all the wealth of human history and the advantages of modernity to help us see the facts and communicate with each other in real time faster and more effectively than others in a similar situation have ever had. And yet here we are, at sixes and sevens as to what free, fair and credible elections are about much less what to do to avail ourselves of this critical advantage.

    The white supremacists said blacks are incapable of self government and we, in Zimbabwe, have become the basket case of a nation with a huge wealth of natural resources and great potential for growth and prosperity and the only one thing standing in the way for the nation realizing even a tiny fraction of its potential is its human resource. We are simply incapable of self-rule.

    We have the ruling elite amassing wealth and wasting it at an alarming rate. What is Mugabe doing with 14 farms, a mansion worth $5 billion, etc. and yet like a crazy magpie he still continue to amass even more wealth with the looting and wholesale plunder going on in Marange. His extravagant and reckless spending is now a runaway train; how can he ever justify spending $10 million on his daughter's wedding one year and then $10 million on the birth of his grandson the next. His insatiable magpie activities and wasteful way assume their earth shattering proportion when viewed in the light of the grinding poverty of the millions of ordinary Zimbabweans. Unemployment has soared to 90% plus, health and education have all but collapse for lack of funds, even something as basic as clean running water is not a luxury even in big cities and towns, etc.

    For 36 years Zimbabweans have watched whilst their hopes, dreams and future is taken away from them. Even now with the country on its knees, we still wring our hands not sure what is happening much less what to do - proof we are really incapable of self-government. I really cannot see Zimbabwe being anything else other than what we are right now - a basket case of a failed state!

  5. Zimbabwe is in a real political and economic mess and we expect two politician with proven track records as corrupt and incompetent leaders to dig us out of the hole. No wonder we are in this hell-hole; we just do not want to get out there and look for competent and quality leaders. We have always settled for whatever rubbish we get without ever having to get off our back sides much less having to think.

    Even with all the evidence Tsvangirai and Mujuru are rubbish we would rather recycle them than do the hard work of finding good ones!

    A coalition of twiddle dee and twiddle dumb; great!

  6. Well here is something that will chime with your economic pressure argument.

    Zimbabwe has paid the $107.9 million to IMF ending more than 15 years of arrears but Zimbabwe is not out of the woods yet to start borrowing again. IMF said Harare must also pay its arrears with other creditors and must implement fiscal and structural reforms “to restore fiscal and debt sustainability and foster private sector development”.

    President Mugabe vowed that he would not pay a penny when he broke up relationship with the IMF and WB in the late 1990s blaming them for Zimbabwe's economic woes. So he has eaten humble pie and paid the arrears. Meanwhile how much in lost opportunities has this totally misplace stubbornness cost the nation in the last 17 years? Billions and billions of dollars! 

  7. Street protests are still a important tool in our tool box in our fight to end the Zanu PF dictatorship however I also agree that there is need for careful thinking and planning. Poor planning has often resulted in very little to show for all the effort and sacrifice! We must aid to do better and with careful planning, we can.