In democratic countries like the USA with well-established two-party system, the electorate pay attention to the election manifestos of the two parties and do not even bother to look at those of the other small parties. What is point, the argument goes, none these small parties will ever form the next government; they can promise the moon on a silver platter knowing they will never be asked to deliver it. In Zimbabwe things are totally different; none of the party manifestos are worth the candle.
Zanu PF, the party that has ruled Zimbabwe ever since the country gained her independence in 1980 has used all manner of dirty tricks ranging from the benign tampering with the voters’ roll and fraudulently cooking up the vote counts to buying the votes right up to using wanton violence to beat, rape and even killing the electorate into submission. The subdued electorate has then voted for the party without any reference to how good or bad the party’s manifesto happened to be or how well or badly the party performed in honouring its last promises!
Zanu PF has produced its party manifesto for this year’s elections; it is full of the usual pie-in-the-sky promises. The party has promised to end the problem of corruption, for example. This is one promised that will never be kept!
President Mnangagwa promised the same thing when took over from Robert Mugabe in November last year and yet seven months down the line not even one corrupt leader has been arrested. He knows that most of his Zanu PF colleagues including VP Chiwenga and he himself are filthy rich from the decades of looting. Corruption is impossible to uproot when those tasked to carry out the task are themselves corrupt and those they are targeting know it!
Two days ago, MDC Alliance launched their 2018 election manifesto which pledges a “Sustainable and Modern Agenda for Real Transformation” – SMART for short. If the party leaders were smart, they would know by now that by failing to demand the implementation of the reform BEFORE the elections they have once again granted Zanu PF the carte blanche powers to rig these elections. So, their “smart” policies will never see the light of day!
In his book The Emperor of all Maladies, Siddhartha Mukerjee, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, relates an anecdotal story of a man frantically searching for his keys under a streetlamp.
“When a passer-by asks the man whether he lost his keys at that spot, the man says that he actually lost them at home – but he is looking for the keys under the lamp because “the light there is the brightest.”
With not even one democratic reform in place there is no doubt that Zanu PF will rig these elections. So, everyone knows that whatever is said in any of the party manifestos will not make the lightest of difference to the outcome of these elections or influence the actions of the regime that emerges. And yet the nation is certain to get an earful of rally speeches, detailed analysis and expert opinion on the different party manifestos.
Democratic nations the world over produce and discuss election manifestos and so we are doing the same even though Zimbabwe is not a democratic nation. We cannot resist the appeal of thinking ourselves as a healthy and functioning democracy just as the man could not resist searching or his keys where the light was brightest! Of course, we would be better off discussing how to stop Zanu PF rigging elections, just as the man would be better off groping in total darkness where he has a chance of finding his keys!
Zimbabwe is in this economic and political mess because country has been stuck with a corrupt, incompetent and tyrannical regime that has rigged elections to stay in power against the democratic wishes of the people. The number one task for this nation has been to implement the democratic reforms necessary to stop Zanu PF rigging elections. The production of an excellent manifesto is all very well but good is it if Zanu PF rigs the elections and none of the manifesto policies are ever implemented!
There following three things are as certain as the sun rising tomorrow:
· Zanu PF will blatant rig these elections, indeed the party is doing it as we speak.
· Zanu PF will win these elections with a landslide, the party has never lost an election in which it has enjoyed carte blanche powers to rig the vote
- The man will never find his keys under the streetlamp, how can he find something that is not there.