Much as President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Junta regime would like the nation and the world at large to believe the 2018 Zimbabwe elections are a normal contestation; anyone with half a brain can see this is not so.
In a few weeks’ time Zanu PF will be launching its elections manifesto and MDC Alliance and all the other 107 political party so far registered to contest this year’s elections will follow suit. the there is nothing normal about these elections. Each party will be trying to convince the voters that its manifesto has the best policies to deliver the economic recovery the nation is dying for. With unemployment a nauseating 90%, ¾ of the population living on US$1.00 or less a day, basic services such as health and education all but gone, etc.; it is no surprise that the economy would the number one issue on most voters’ mind.
What makes these elections abnormal is that the winner will not be the one picked by the electorate in a free, fair and credible elections because these elections are NOT going to be free, fair and credible. President Mnangagwa has made a big song and dance about these elections going to be free and fair and yet has done nothing to make this happen.
When it comes to rigging elections Zanu PF showed the nation in graphic details what it can do in the 2008 elections. It ordered ZEC to recount the March vote and after six weeks of blatant cheating, whittled down Tsvangirai’s 73%, according to Mugabe’s own inadvertent admission, to 47% - enough to force the run-off. In the run-off the party used wanton violence, first, to punish the voters for having rejected Mugabe and Zanu PF in the earlier vote and, then, to make sure they vote for the tyrant in the run-off.
SADC leaders stepped in the Zimbabwe political crisis and order Zanu PF and the two MDC faction to go into a Government of National Unity (GNU) whose primary task was to implement the raft of democratic reforms designed to stop Zanu PF rigging elections and guarantee free, fair and credible elections.
Sadly, Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends, the GNU partners expected to drive the reforms, sold-out. Not even one reform was implemented during the GNU.
SADC leaders tried to have the 2013 elections postponed and get the reforms implemented first. It was not surprising that Mugabe and his Zanu PF cronies wanted the elections to go ahead; the real big surprise was that MDC leaders went along.
“‘If you go into elections next month, you are going to lose; the elections are done!” SADC leaders had warned Tsvangirai and company in 2013, according to Dr Ibbo Mandaza who was at the Maputo Summit that year.
For all his rhetorical posturing about post November coup Zimbabwe being different, a “new dispensation”, one thing has remained remarkable the same – Zanu PF’s power and ability to rig elections have survived the political purges that followed coup unscathed. President Mnangagwa has dismissed all calls to implement the reforms with his usual contemptuous arrogance.
“Zanu PF ichatonga! Igotonga! Imi muchingo hukura! Nokuhukura!” (Zanu PF will rule! And rule! Whilst you [calling for reforms] bark! And bark!) Mnangagwa used to say before the coup. It was the very first thing he said on his return from exile following the toppling of Mugabe in the coup!
President Mnangagwa has refused to implement even one democratic reform. Not even one!
Indeed, President Mnangagwa has followed the vote rigging plans Zanu PF had lined up before the November coup. He has dished out the twin cab trucks to each of the nation’s 282 Chiefs, a bribe Mugabe had promised the Chiefs. The Chiefs have been instrumental in corral rural voters to vote for Zanu PF.
Mnangagwa has appointed retired General Engelbert Rugeje, a well-known ruthless thug especially in the 2008 and 2013 reign of terror, to work with war veterans, many of them operatives of the 2008 and 2013 mayhem, plus recently deployed 2 000 to 5 000 soldiers. They task is compliment the Chiefs and coerce people to vote for Zanu PF.
The other vote rigging activities are also in full swing. NIKUV, the Israeli company that Zanu PF has used in rigging past elections, is working with ZEC to ensure as many opposition supporters are denied the vote by posting their details to the wrong polling station whilst Zanu PF supporters are bussed from one station to another casting multiple votes. The party continues to deny the opposition public media coverage, making a mockery of allowing the electorate to have an informed choice; etc.
With no reforms in place, Zanu PF is just going through its usual routine of rigging these elections. Indeed, the vote rigging is well organised and so effective it is no exaggeration to say, “this year’s elections are done!”, as SADC leaders will put it.
There is nothing ordinary about elections that are “done” months before the first ballot is cast, before the manifestos are out. All the hoo-hah about election manifestos is all a waste of time, a smoke screen to create the impression these are normal elections when they are not.
In the next few weeks Zimbabwe will be marking her 38 th year of independence. In all those years the country has failed to one even one free, fair and credible elections.
If the truth be told, it must be told, Zimbabwe is in this economic hell because the nation has been stuck with a corrupt and incompetent Zanu PF regime for 38 years. The people realised 20 years ago, at the latest, that Mugabe was not delivering mass prosperity, “gutsva ruzhinji”, as he never tired of promising but mass poverty. The people have failed to remove the tyrant from office because he rigged elections.
The root cause Zimbabwe has fallen from its perch as the jewel of Africa is our failure to hold free and fair elections. In 1980 we were a rich nation with the potential to be the South Korea of Africa, today we are the poorest nation in Africa whose continued economic meltdown and political instability is threatening to plunge the whole region into chaos.
After 38 years of holding utterly meaningless elections which have only dragged the nation deeper and deeper into this economic hell-on-earth, we must call a halt to all this madness. Whilst we cannot undo the past; what we can do is the next best thing, learn from our past mistakes and make sure we do not repeat the same mistakes over and over again!
Let us agree that there is nothing ordinary about this year’s elections. Because the elections are going ahead without first implementing the democratic reforms designed to stop Zanu PF rigging election, the regime has been rigging the elections. The “elections are done”!
What is required here is for every thinking Zimbabwean out there to acknowledge the sheer futility and madness of participating in flawed elections, so flawed the “election is done” months before voting has even began, for 38 years now. In this, the 38th year of our independence, we must pledge that Zimbabwe will never ever hold another flawed elections; we must demand the implementation of all the reforms BEFORE the election, the only guarantee the elections will be free, fair and credible.