The March 2008 elections and the follow up July presidential run-off showed the full rottenness of our de facto one-party cum one-man dictatorship. In the March vote Zanu PF was able to willy-nilly withhold announcing the results for a staggering six weeks as the party blatantly cooked up the result to suit its selfish purpose. Tsvangirai won 73% of the vote, by Mugabe’s own inadvertent admission and to reduce this to 47% took time, six weeks, because all polling station results had to be revisited and corrupted to suit!
The presidential run-off was an orgy of violence. Mugabe launch a military style operation “Mavhotera papi!” (Whom did you vote for!) whose primary purpose was to punish the electorate for having rejected Mugabe and his Zanu PF thugs in the March vote. Millions of people were harassed, beaten and raped and over 500 were murdered in cold blood.
Zanu PF has declared war on the defenceless people,” complained Morgan Tsvangirai as he announced his withdrawal from the run-off.
Mugabe went on to win the one-horse race by 84%; overhauling Tsvangirai’s earlier 73%! Of course, no one, not even SADC and the AU election observers would accept the result as a true reflection of free and fair vote.
SADC forced Mugabe to sign an agreement, the Global Political Agreement (GPA), giving rise to the formation of Government of National Unity (GNU) whose primary task was to implement a raft of democratic reforms design to deliver free, fair and credible elections and stop a repeat of the barbarism of blatant vote rigging and wanton violence of 2008.
Within the GNU, the responsibility to implement the raft of democratic reforms fall on Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends, they were elected by the people on a ticket of delivering democratic change and they were the victims of Zanu PF’s rigged elections. As the guarantor of the GPA, SADC’s principle task was to ensure Mugabe and Zanu PF will not block the reforms.
Sadly, MDC leaders took their eyes off the ball and failed to get even one reform implemented. SADC leaders did their best to remind Tsvangirai and company to implement the reforms but their advice fell on deaf ears.
Mugabe’s role throughout the GNU was to bribe MDC leaders with the trappings of high office and make them forget the reforms. The GNU was the most bloated administration ever, with as many cabinet ministers as the usual bloated Zanu PF administration. They all got ministerial cars, generous allowances, a farm seized from a white farmer for Welshman Ncube, a $4 million Highlands mansion for Tsvangirai, etc. It worked!
“Mazivanhu eMDC adzidza kudya anyerere!” (MDC people have learnt to enjoy the gravy train lifestyle, they are not going to rock the boat!) What the common boasting by Zanu PF loyalists to explain why MDC leaders were not implementing any reforms.
One of the greatest tragic consequences of MDC's failure to implement even one democratic reform during the GNU was that Zanu PF retained the de facto one-party dictatorship, complete with its blatant vote rigging and the option to use wanton violence, untouched.
Just before the 2013 elections, the then Zanu PF Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, held a press interview to which all foreign ambassadors were invited. The main thrust of his message was to remind them all that Zanu PF did not block the implementation of not even one democratic reform throughout the life time of the GNU.
“Last week in our meeting with the (SADC) facilitation team, I invited the (MDCs) to send their proposals (regarding POSA) to me, but up to now I have not received any,” Chinamasa said at the press briefing on 14 June 2013.
“With AIPPA, it is the same situation; last week I asked all concerned that let me have (their) proposals and up to now I have not received any.
“If we come to the so-called security sector reforms, once again those reforms they were talking about were negotiated and are now part of the Constitution.”
So Zanu PF’s position going into the July 2013 elections was that all democratic reforms that were asked for in the GPA were implemented and Zimbabwe’s election that year were free, fair and credible. This is the official position of the party as regards demands for implementing any more reforms post the July 2013 elections.
Some of the party leaders including VP Mnangagwa and Professor Jonathan Moyo have admitted that no meaningful reforms were implemented during the GNU. However, they have also made it clear that they will resist all pressure to implement the reforms as to do so would be to remove the electoral advantages the dictatorship gives Zanu PF.
“You can’t expect us to reform ourselves out of power,” Professor Moyo has said, blatantly!
There is no doubt that MDC leaders’ failure to implement the reforms when they had the golden opportunity to do so during the GNU has emboldened Zanu PF. Still what Mugabe and his Zanu PF thugs must be made to understand is that the root cause of Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown that has seen unemployment soar to 90% and left millions of our people living in abject poverty is the country’s failed political system.
Zimbabweans are now the poorest in Africa, the situation is economically unjustified given the country’s economic wealth and potential. The situation is socially, politically and morally unsustainable. The country desperately needs meaningful economic recovery which is only possible if there is meaningful political change.
Zimbabwe must implement the democratic reforms as a matter of urgency and for national survival. Zanu PF’s position to resist reform for selfish political gain is economically, socially and morally neither justifiable nor sustainable.
Even if Zanu PF managed to con a number of opposition parties to contest next year’s elections with no reforms in place and thus retain office; the country’s economic meltdown will not go away and with it the demands for political reform.
Democratic reforms is the one mimesis Mugabe has tried to ignore and shake off but has failed, it has followed him like a shadow, and in the end it is the one that going to bring down the dictatorship. In the end the Zanu PF dictatorship will be reformed and dismantled because no regime built on the suffering and graves of others will resist change for long.
Mugabe has already started his campaigning for next year’s elections and all the nation will hear about is rallies, manifestos, empty promises and the usual threats and violence. The one thing he will not mention is democratic reforms and yet at the end of the day it will be the reforms that will dominate the political discourse because nothing of any substance will ever be accomplished until we implement the reforms and dismantle the Zanu PF dictatorship.