There are many Zimbabweans out there who want the 2018 elections to go ahead with no reforms in place and are calling for SADC to help ensure free and fair elections. These people are whistling in the graveyard, the dead are deaf and so no one will ever hear them! These people have clearly failed to understand the political events in Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections and those of the GNU years that followed; they would never agree to elections to going ahead with no reforms, in the first place.
Second, Zimbabweans must realise that SADC has already given us their best advice – do not participate in elections with no reform. It was the best advice in 2013 and remain so now. We chose to ignore it at our own peril back in 2013 and will pay dearly for it if we do so again in 2018.
The events of 2008 form the political bench mark on which we must base our political decisions; those who want to ignore this are wasting our time.
In the March 2008 elections President Mugabe lost the vote to Tsvangirai by 73%; he admitted so himself and there is convincing anecdotal evidence to support this, ZEC did not need six weeks to recount 5 million votes unless they were “cooking” the vote.
After six weeks of recounting ZEC announced that Tsvangirai had only 47% to President Mugabe’s 43% of the vote.
In the March 2008 vote many people voted for a Zanu PF parliamentary and senatorial candidate but voted for Tsvangirai, MDC, president instead of the Zanu PF candidate, Mugabe; especially in Mai Mujuru’s Mashonaland Central province. This was the now infamous operation “Bhora musango!” (Kick the ball into the bush!) which was meant to kick Mugabe out of State House. President Mugabe himself has since acknowledged “Bhora musango!” happened and after her unceremonious booting out of Zanu PF Mai Mujuru, admitted and even boasted that she did indeed instigate the surreptitious cloak-and-dagga operation.
There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that MDC parliamentary and senatorial candidates instigated a similar sinister voting plan to benefit Mugabe at Tsvangirai’s expense. None!
So, if operation Bhora musango did, indeed, happen then how was it possible that Tsvangirai’s vote, as declared by ZEC after the six weeks of recounting 5 million vote, was only a misery 4% lead over Mugabe’s? There is no doubt that ZEC “cooked” the result!
Tsvangirai’s 47% lead was an acceptable result for President Mugabe because it meant there would be a presidential run-off, giving him a second bite at the cherry! Mugabe took draconian measures to ensure that he prevailed this time
In April to July 2008, Mugabe carried out a military style campaign, operation “Mavhotera papi!” (Whom did you vote for!) He unleashed the rogue war veterans and Zanu PF youth militia backed by Army, Police and CIO with the simple instructions to punish the people for having rejected him in the earlier March vote.
“What was achieved by the bullet cannot be undone by the ballot!” Mugabe declared, cheering his thugs along. Here is a tyrant who does not believe in free and fair democratic elections; he could not have put it more plainly in words and/or deeds!
“Mugabe has declared war on the defenceless people!” mourned Morgan Tsvangirai. He withdraw from the race “to stop further bloodshed!”
Operation “Mavhotera papi” was a ruthless “war” of attrition in which hundreds of thousands of innocent people were harassed, beaten, raped and had their homes burnt down. Over 500 were murdered in three months.
In the end, Mugabe reversed Tsvangirai’s 73% March victory to a 84% landslide victory for himself. Operation “Mavhotera papi!” was a resounding success for Mugabe! Sadly, for him, no one else agreed the result was a true reflection of the free and democratic wish of the people of Zimbabwe!
No one, not even the SADC and AU observer teams know for giving thumbs up to dodgy electoral processes in the past, would endorse Zimbabwe’s July 2008 electoral result as free, fair and credible!
Mugabe was only allowed to stay in power on condition Zimbabwe will have a Government of National Unity (GNU) whose principle task was to implement a raft of democratic reforms designed to stop the 2008 blatant vote rigging and wanton violence.
As we all know Tsvangirai and his MDC friends failed to get even one reform implemented in the five years of the GNU. Mugabe bribed them with the trappings of high office, a former white own farm and $4 million mansion for Ncube and Tsvangirai respectively, etc. and MDC leaders kicked the reforms into the bush! Of course, MDC leaders are incompetent and sell-outs!
SADC leaders and others did their best to stop MDC leaders contesting the 2013 elections with no reforms in place as Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, MDC minister in the GNU, has since admitted.
“We have failed to admit that we did not live up to expectations. For me, I would say that rigging would only be 10% of the problem, and 90% was our fault,” Nkomo told the Independent reporter Herbert Moyo in May 2014.
“We failed to secure critical reforms before participating in the elections. The whole world advised us not to get into the elections without reforms, and so in everything that we have been saying we have failed to acknowledge that we also made a mistake.”
Senator David Coltart has since shed light on the real motive behind MDC’s refusal to listen to reason and contested the 2013 elections even if they, MDC leaders, themselves knew the elections will be rigged.
“The worst aspect for me about the failure to agree a coalition was that both MDCs couldn’t now do the obvious – withdraw from the elections,” explained Senator Coltart.
“The electoral process was so flawed, so illegal, that the only logical step was to withdraw, which would compel SADC to hold Zanu PF to account. But such was the distrust between the MDC-T and MDC-N that neither could withdraw for fear that the other would remain in the elections, winning seats and giving the process credibility.”
So, there is the explanation in black and white why Zimbabwe’s opposition politicians elected to contest flawed elections in 2013 – greed!
No opposition politician out there would deny that not even one democratic reform has been implemented and thus Zanu PF, if the regime should deem it necessary in its sworn undertaking that “nothing accomplished by the bullet can be changed by a ballot”, can employ all the dirty tactics it employed in 2008. SADC and the international community advised the opposition not to contest the 2013 elections with no reforms in place; since no reforms are in place still their position on the matter has therefore not changed.
So, the only logical reason why Zimbabwe’s opposition politicians continue to disregard SADC and international advice against contesting flawed elections is that these politicians’ position has not changed – they are the same greedy, corrupt, incompetent and sell-outs they have already proven to be during the GNU and in the 2013 elections.
The choice to contest the 2018 elections with not even one reform in place, contrary to the advice not to, is ours to make but what we must not expect is SADC to endorse that decision in any way much less any sympathy when we complain of Zanu PF rigging the elections after the event.