After seizing power in the military coup in November 2017, President Mnangagwa and his putsch junta promised to hold free, fair and credible elections. Even they knew that the coup was an unconstitutional act and per se their regime was from the word go illegitimate and still is to this day.
The junta’s promise to hold free, fair and credible elections was, in itself, a tacit acknowledgement by the regime that it is illegitimate and a promissory undertaking to return to legality. There is a mountain of evidence to prove that President Mnangagwa and his junta are not going to deliver of their promise to hold free, fair and credible elections. It is the duty of every thinking Zimbabwean out there to make sure the junta delivers on this one promise and not allowed to get away with another rigged election, if it fails.
Zimbabwe is in a serious economic mess; unemployment has soared to dizzying heights of 90%; ¾ of our people are now living in abject poverty whilst the few, ruling elite, are filthy rich; basic services like health have all but completely collapsed, the ruling elite routinely travel to SA, Singapore, etc. for all their health needs; etc. The root cause of this mess is the country’s failure to hold free and fair elections. The nation has been stuck with this incompetent, corrupt and murderous Zanu PF dictatorship for the last 38 years because the regime rigged elections to stay in power.
Our ticket out of this economic and political hell-on-earth that this de facto one-party, Zanu PF, dictatorship has landed us is holding free, fair and credible elections. This is why implementing the democratic reforms necessary for free and fair elections is Zimbabwe’s holy grail. Nothing of any substance can ever be accomplished until we exorcise the dictatorship devils, implement the reforms and hold free and fair elections.
The primary task of 2008 to 2013 GNU was to implement the democratic reforms agreed in the Global Political Agreement and signed by Robert Mugabe, on behalf of Zanu PF, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, on behalf of the two MDC factions. President Tembo Mbeki of SA signed on behalf of SADC leaders, who were the guarantor of the agreement.
Throughout the five years of the GNU, SADC leaders nagged Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends to implement the reforms but were ignored at every turn. When it was clear to SADC leaders that, with no reforms in place, Zanu PF was set to rig the elections they made one more desperate bid to have the elections postponed.
“Of course, they (elections) can be postponed. 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, director of SAPES Trust, told Violet Gonda in a detailed 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’.
“And we came back on a Sunday and that Monday we had a SAPES Policy Dialogue to discuss the Summit and lo and behold, whilst we were discussing it, the court papers arrived calling the MDC to court to show reason why the elections should be postponed. Mugabe had done a volte-face against the decision of the Summit. Mugabe went on TV and threatened to leave SADC – ‘who is SADC, we can leave SADC anyway’.
“And so, under some pretext of a court application by Jealousy Mawarire, which others claim was really a ZANU PF ploy, the elections were held.
“And 3 or 4 days before the election Morgan Tsvangirai was lamenting that he had evidence that the election was already rigged. But they were warned like they are being warned again now. But blindly, they cannot make any excuses now, they going into elections again.”
The staging of the November coup has put Zanu PF, now under the management of the coup plotters, under renewed pressure to hold free and fair elections. President Mnangagwa as Mugabe’s right-hand man; especially on such matters as vote rigging, political violence including intimidation and murder and looting to bankroll the party’s vote rigging schemes and shenanigans; knew what the democratic reforms agreed in the GPA were and, if he so wished, would have implemented them after the November coup. He did not.
Indeed, instead of implementing the reforms he has continued to dismiss those calling for reforms as barking.
“Zanu PF ichatonga! Igo tonga! Imi muchingohukura! Nokuhukura!” (Zanu PF will rule! And rule! Whilst you (calling for reforms) bark! And bark!) Was the first thing President Mnangagwa told his Zanu PF supporters after the coup, to reassure on his commitment to the party’s no-regime-change mantra. This was Mnangagwa’s favourite boast before the coup and he wanted everyone to know he had not changed.
Just as SADC leaders had predicted in 2013, this year’s elections too “are done”. There is no free public media, the voters’ roll is in a shambolic state, Zanu PF has unfettered access to public resources and to billions of dollars of looted public wealth to bankroll it vote rigging juggernaut, etc., etc.; these elections are not going to be free, fair and credible.
In their bid to regain their lost legitimacy, President Mnangagwa and his junta; extended the official invitation to observe the elections to many other nations and organisations including USA, EU, Commonwealth, etc. besides the usual ones SADC, AU, China, Russia, etc. The task of every thinking Zimbabwean is to make sure the international observers judge these elections honestly and truthfully.
The basic tenets for free, fair and credible elections; free media, verifiable voters, transparent party funding, etc.; are the same the world over. If these tenets are missing, then the observers must declare these elections null and void. That is all we are asking, and it is not too much to ask!
President Mnangagwa and his junta were never going to hold free and fair elections, risk losing power by giving up the party’s carte blanche dictatorial powers to rig elections; that was a bridge too far for these seasoned thugs! By failing to keep its promise to hold free elections the junta has failed to redeem its illegitimacy following the November coup and opened a great opportunity to revisit the 2008 GPA reforms.
It is for us, the people of Zimbabwe, to demand that the illegitimate Zanu PF junta must step aside to allow the appointment of an interim administration that will be tasked to implement the 2008 GPA reforms, hold free elections and thus finally get this great nation out of this hell-hole!
We know that Zanu PF is rigging these elections, they “are done”, as SADC leaders aptly put in 2013. Our main task now is to make sure the whole charade is declared null and void so we can go back to implementing the reforms!