Election time is a very important time in a democratic country where elections are free, fair and credible because it offers the ordinary people the rare opportunity to have a meaningful say in the governance of the country. The people have a chance to reaffirm their support on what was done right and elect new faces with fresh ideas to reinvigorate the nation.
Elections is nothing more than spring cleaning; if you do a thorough job then you will have a fairly clean house for the rest of the year. It is heartening therefore to see that many Zimbabweans are taking an active interest in Zimbabwe’s next elections. But, like any other activity but especially one that requires careful planning and coordination, there will be no advantage in having all-hands on deck if we are pulling in opposite directions or worse still in the wrong direction.
SADC leaders warned Tsvangirai and company not to contest the July 2013 elections without implementing the democratic reforms first.
“In 2013 the Maputo Summit, in June 2013, before the elections, the Maputo Summit was all about having the elections postponed – the SADC summit. I went there,” Dr Ibbo Mandaza told Violet Gonda in a recent interview.
“I was there at the Summit and Mugabe pretended to agree to a postponement of the elections. If you recall, the postponement was based on the need to reform at least electoral laws, and after that Summit, Morgan Tsvangirai, Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube, all of them were called to a separate meeting by the Heads of State of SADC in the absence of Mugabe, that same evening. And they were told; I was sitting there outside the room with Mac Maharaj; they were told ‘if you go into elections next month, you are going to lose; the elections are done’.”
As we know MDC leaders failed to heed the warning and the contested the elections and, as we also know, Zanu PF went on to rig the vote.
SADC leaders’ warning not to contest the flawed 2013 elections was addressed at MDC leaders in the first instance but at us, the people, as well. It is our duty to be vigilant and be aware what those we have entrusted with power and authority are doing at all times. We, the people, failed ourselves in letting MDC leaders contest the July 2013 elections with no concrete guarantees the elections will be free, fair and credible. If we had been paying attention at all throughout the five years of the GNU then we should have known long before the June 2013 SADC summit that MDC leaders had sold-out as they had not implemented even one reform in spite the repeated reminders to do so from SADC and many others.
So, whilst it is heartening that so many Zimbabweans are taking an active interest in Zimbabwe’s next year elections, no doubt the country’s worsening economic situation has helped sharpen our focus; it is important that everyone understand the two choices before them and the consequence of each. We are at a cross road:
Turn left: Contesting the elections with no reforms.
Many of the opposition parties including MDC factions and Mujuru’s NPP are determined to contest next year’s elections although they accept that no reforms have been implemented since the rigged July 2013 elections. It is important that we, the people, understand why Tsvangirai et al are contesting elections they know will be rigged. They are doing so out of greed; pure and simple, as David Coltart was honest enough to admit in his book.
“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,” wrote 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.”
Of course, Tsvangirai and the rest in the opposition camp will never ever admit they are contesting the flawed elections for the sake of the few gravy train seats – they must be cursing Coltart for letting that cat out of the bag! They are torn between blame Zanu PF for its tyrannical arrogance in refusing to implement the reforms (they will never admit they sold-out and failed to implement any reforms when they had the golden opportunity to do so) and down playing Zanu PF’s vote rigging powers.
The opposition have spent a lot of sweat and treasure in promoting coalition building, voter education and mobilisation, Biometric Voter Registration and many such activities to create the impression that these will counter if not completely stop Zanu PF’s vote rigging and thus deliver electoral victory to the opposition. Only the naïve and gullible have been fooled.
Some Zimbabweans, without considering the merits of contesting the elections, they have accepted the elections as fait accompli; have turned their attention on how they can help the ordinary person have some say, compromised or whatever. There are some Church groups, civic society and NGOs that have taken it upon themselves to help with the voter education and voter mobilisation.
“In previous elections many gross human right violations have gone unreported because many people did not have a secure way place and means to get their story out. Ziso/ Ilihlo gives people of the ability to send a simple text or to simple document the abuse including the geolocation and download it on the application,” announced VOA Zimbabwe. They were announcing launch of social media application Ziso/ Ilihlo launched last week by Zimbabwe Citizen Initiative.
Whilst one would not want to be seen as the one throwing cold water on such initiatives, still one must point out the glaring shortcoming here – all these activities will make it harder to commit human rights abuses and to rig the elections, at best.
No one in the opposition or these NGOs would dare claim that any of their activities will stop Zanu PF rigging the next elections because none of the activities address any of the democratic reforms designed to dismantle the vote rigging juggernaut. After 37 years of rigged elections and with the country in a real mess; a route that will not deliver any meaningful political and economic change is unacceptable.
Turn Right: Demand the implementation of the democratic reforms to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
The fact of the matter is Zimbabwe is in this political and economic mess today, we are the poorest nation in Africa when 37 years ago we were one of the richest; because, for all these years we have been stuck with a corrupt, incompetent and tyrannical regime. Our failure to hold free, fair and credible elections is at the very heart of our political and economic mess and, more significantly, to get out of the mess we must hold free and fair elections.
Yes, Zanu PF has wormed its way back into power thanks to MDC’s betrayal in failing to implement the democratic reforms during the GNU and in contesting the 2013 elections to forfeit the chance to get the reforms implemented. Still the regime has no right to refuse to implement the reforms and the holding of free and fair elections because free elections are a right to a privilege.
The right to free, fair and meaningful vote is a fundamental right and not a privilege to be given to some and denied to others.
Rigging elections is a very serious offence and Zimbabwe must institute a high-powered investigation into the contact of past elections with the view of establishing the truth, punishing the traitors and setting a precedent that the nation does not tolerate electoral fraud because it undermines the very foundation of law abiding, stable and prosperous nation.
For anyone to contest in an election knowing the election process is rigged is madness but them to entice others to participate in such elections for their selfish reasons is itself high treason.
Morgan Tsvangirai et al are the reasons the country is in this present mess fighting to get the reforms implemented the very least they can do is deny Zanu PF the modicum of credibility after holding a flawed electoral process. We, the people, must force the opposition politicians to honour the “No reform, no elections!” pledge.
The 2008 to 2013 GNU offered Zimbabwe a golden opportunity to end the corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF dictatorship. Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends failed to get even one reform implemented and went on to contest the July 2013 elections contrary to SADC leaders’ advice not to do so. The Zimbabwe populous followed MDC no questions asked and we have paid dearly for our folly. Zanu PF rigged the elections and now threatens to rig future elections too.
The task of implementing the elections was much easier during the GNU than it is now. We, the people, will have to grit our teeth and confront both Zanu PF and the opposition to get the reforms implemented. Trying to bring about change without upsetting the status quo, even by assigning additional chores to ourselves, is just an excuse for avoiding the difficult task of implementing the reforms. After the rig election we will still be talking of the need to implement the reforms!
It is either we implement the reforms now or pay dearly for not to do so until we finally implement the reforms. This is all we have done these last 37 years!