There is not even one thinking Zimbabwean out there who would disagree that the country is in economic ruins with unemployment a nauseating 90% and 76% of our people now living in abject poverty and denied their freedoms, human rights, human dignity and hope. There is no question about how caused the economic ruins – 36 years of gross mismanagement, rampant corruption and lawlessness by the corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF one-party cum one-man dictatorship. The public debate is now focused on what should be done to get the nation out of this mess?
There two competing schools of thought as to what the forward should be:
a) There are those who are saying we should expend all our time, energy and treasure on uniting the country’s opposition; making sure the electorate register to vote and then go out to vote en masse coming voting day. The argument here is that Zanu PF will be defeated if we do not divide the opposition vote and people vote in such big numbers that rigging the vote is impossible.
b) The second school of thought is arguing that we should expend all our time, energy, treasure, sweat, blood - everything on getting the democratic reforms designed to dismantle Zanu PF’s vote rigging juggernaut so that the next elections are free, fair and credible because only free and fair elections will deliver a compete government. If not a competent government, then at least one with some common sense.
There are several reasons why uniting the opposition and contesting the elections with no reforms is doomed to fail and here is a few of these reasons:
There is no quality in the opposition and quantity is a poor substitute for quality.
It has been long in coming but it is now beginning to dawn on many people that quality matters, that we are in this mess because the corrupt and incompetent opposition let us down. Both Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru are corrupt and incompetent, their political track records speaks volumes, and per se they will never accomplish anything of substance.
Tsvangirai had his best chance to implement the democratic reforms during the GNU; he failed to get even one reform implemented. Not even one! To get out of this mess the country must implement the democratic reforms a.s.a.p. and it is naïve to trust Tsvangirai to do so if he was to lead the next government.
“Now, Mrs Mujuru’s genes, her DNA is 100% Zanu PF. We all know that had she not been expelled from Zanu PF, she would still be a vice president aspiring to inherit that coveted throne” wrote Rejoice Ngwenya in Zimeye.
Of course, Rejoice is right, Mujuru is Zanu PF in all but name. If she was elected back into office, she will be looking at carrying on with the corruption and mismanagement where she left off when she was booted out of Zanu PF in 2014.
A united opposition of Tsvangirai, Mujuru plus many others equally corrupt and incompetent will increase the head count, quantity, but they will still be corrupt and incompetent and therefore will not deliver the political and economic changes the nation needs. It will take quality leadership to get the economy back on track and not just a change of name of who is president.
If you can rig the vote, politics in more than a game of numbers.
Mugabe has always wanted Zimbabwe to be a one-party state and from the word go he has set his mind to establish and retain the de facto one-party cum one-man dictatorship that has misruled this nation these last 36 years and landing us in this mess. As the national economy started to falter and with it his popularity with the people; Mugabe has resorted to all manner of dirty tricks to rig the vote including the use of wanton violence. Mugabe has turned vote rigging into an art, numbers count for nothing.
In the March 2008 elections Tsvangirai got 73% of the votes, by Mugabe's own admission, but after six weeks of recounting the 5 million votes, Mugabe's ZEC whittled down 73% to 47%.
In the presidential run-off that followed Mugabe launched a military style operation "Mavhotera paps!" (Whom did you vote for!). He deployed Police, Army, CIO and war veterans to punish the people for having voted for MDC in the March vote. The country witnessed its worst ever election violence and over 500 people were murdered. Mugabe got 98% of the vote and ZEC took less than a day to count and declare the result!
In the 2013 elections, the nation was spared the wanton violence but only because Mugabe had devised a very sophisticated vote rigging scheme. He paid an Israeli company NIKUV a princely sum of US$ 10 million to corrupt the voters roll so that nearly one million voters (Mugabe’s winning margin that year was just over one million) were denied the vote because their details were posted in some other constituency than the one they expected.
Two days before the elections the number of polling station was increased from 2 000 to 9 000 and hooded Zanu PF youths were seen on Youtube videos being bussed from one polling station to the next casting multiple votes.
The law of the land says the voters roll must released one month, at least, before voting day; Mugabe refused to do so. If he had done so, then people whose details were posted in wrong constituencies would have had the chance to have this corrected, for example. In fact to this day, Mugabe still refuse to release the 2013 voters roll; he knows that it is the smoking gun of the blatant vote rigging that took place that year.
Zanu PF’s vote rigging juggernaut is a well-funded machine.
$15 billions of diamond revenue was looted, again by Mugabe’s own admission, in the period 2010 to 2016. He made the surprise admission in February and to date no one has been arrested and Finance Minister has also confirmed that government is still collected revenue from one out of the expected six million carat diamond output; proof that the looting in still going on. It is no secret that some of the looted billions are now being used to fund Zanu PF’s vote rigging schemes.
Vote rigging is the elephant in the room, opposition unity is only the mouse
Many Zimbabweans have developed the knack for ignoring the elephant in the room squeezing everyone else out and talk of the mouse instead. For decades, Mugabe has denied that corruption was undermining national development and the economy. He blamed the drought and sanctions instead allowing corruption to grow and spread. What nation of earth can sustain the haemorrhaging of $15 billions much less one with Zimbabwe’s GDP of $14 billions.
The people of Zimbabwe should have stood firm against Mugabe’s vote rigging shenanigans soon after independence; we did not, allowing the tyrant to develop and perfect his vote rigging dirty tricks. During the GNU, the country had its best chance ever to implement the reforms and end the Zanu PF dictatorship; Tsvangirai wasted that chance.
The task of stopping Zanu PF rigging elections has become progressively more and more difficult because the regime has had all these years to entrench itself into power. But just as the cancerous corruption has grown and spread and now poses a serious threat to the economic life of the nation and therefore cannot be ignored any more. So too is the vote rigging; Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown is socially and politically unsustainable and political reform is the key to unlock economic reform. This nation cannot afford yet another rigged elections and thus delay economic recovery.
Why we need the NTA to implement the democratic reforms
Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders in the Nation Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) have been calling on Zanu PF to implement electoral reforms, without even bothering to discuss the merits of these reforms, it is naïve to expect Zanu PF to president over reforms designed to dismantle the party’s political power base. Senior Zanu PF leaders like Professor Jonathan Moyo and VP Mnangagwa have already public stated that the party will never do any such thing.
There are rumours that Tsvangirai is negotiating with Zanu PF to enter yet another GNU. Since the primary task of the new GNU would be to implement democratic reforms leading to free and fair elections, the same task the two parties failed to get even one reform implemented last time. The two parties failed to get even one reforms implemented for various selfish reasons, those reasons are still there today. It would be naïve to trust Mnangagwa and/or Tsvangirai to implement all the reforms thoroughly and expeditiously.
The task of implementing the democratic reforms must be given others who played very little or no part in the failed GNU or the Zanu PF dictatorship of those last 36 years. A National Transition Authority (NTA) is one such political body that could formed and tasked to implement the reforms.
The last GNU was a product of the political crisis born out of the wanton violence and vote rigging of the 2008 elections, we do not need to have a repeat of another rigged elections of social upheaval in the country to justify the NTA. The present economic situation is socially and politically unsustainable and we should embrace change now without inflicting any more suffering on our people much less shed another drop of blood in street protests or political violence.
Taking part in 2013 elections with no reforms was foolish it will be folly to do so again
SADC leaders warned Tsvangirai not to take part in the 2013 elections with no reforms implemented. Tsvangirai thought he had the numbers on his side to overwhelm any vote rigging by Mugabe. He was wrong as we know and the nation has paid dearly for it. Taking part in any future elections without implementing any reforms is sheer folly.
Demanding free, fair and credible elections is NOT asking for too much
It was the Greeks who, 2500 years ago, came up with democracy as a just and stable system of government, the ante-dote to autocracy and tyranny, in which everyone had a meaningful say in the governance of the country. We know that the de facto Zanu PF dictatorship has not worked, we do not need someone else to tell that or that we need change. They are those who are pretending not to know what constitute free, fair and credible elections and are asking us to sweep all evidence of vote rigging by this regime under the carpet. We must ignore them and demand, not in a shy way but firmly, the implementation of all democratic reforms to ensure the next elections are free, fair and credible.