By Wilbert Mukori| “Muromo hauzarirwi nerwizi!” (To big mouth, there is no such thing as flooded river he cannot wade across!) So, goes the Shona adage.
Ever since the November 2017 coup, President Mnangagwa and his coup junta have gone out of their way to tell people that they are totally different from the Zanu PF of Robert Mugabe days. The coup removed Mugabe and “the criminal elements around him” the bad apples who had given Zanu PF the bad name.
They were painfully aware that staging a coup was NOT exactly the auspicious start for a seasoned thug claim they have denounced thuggery! So, the announcement that the post-coup Zanu PF regime would hold free, fair and credible elections, took the added urgency and poignance!
To anyone who knew President Emmerson Mnangagwa and all of those involved in the coup were, until the coup, Robert Mugabe’s fixers. They had planned and executed all the acts of corruption, looting, vote rigging and wanton violence that established and sustain the party’s iron grip on power. Their ruthless zeal was the very heart and soul of the Zanu PF dictatorship.
So, whatever happened to force Mnangagwa, Chiwenga and the rest of the others in the junta to denounce their life long career as thugs and demagogues must have been some monumental Damascene moment! After 37 years of rigging elections and using wanton violence to impose Mugabe and the Zanu PF dictatorship on the nation Mnangagwa et al were going to something radically different and at complete odds with their character and nature – hold free, fair and credible elections.
Holding free, fair and credible elections has become the ultimate test, the flood river to wade through, to prove Zimbabwe is no longer a pariah state ruled by thugs!
Why am I not surprised that President Mnangagwa and his junta have been at sixes and sevens, frantically trying to redefine what constitute free, fair and credible elections.
Three weeks ago, President Mnangagwa claimed, in the interview he gave to the UK Economist Magazine, that the 2008 elections were free, fair and credible. “Where is the evidence the elections were rigged!” he maintained.
There followed an avalanche of reports and articles at the time giving details of the blatant cheating and wanton violence that took place that year. Of course, people were outraged by ED’s denial of the barbarism of the 2008 elections. They told him, in no uncertain terms, if what happened in 2008 was his idea of free, fair and credible elections, he should be in Chikurumbi prison and not State House.
President Mnangagwa and his junta regime were reminded for the umpteenth time that they must implement the democratic reforms agreed with SADC following the rigged 2008 elections. The regime knows that not even one reform was implemented throughout the GNU which is why the SADC leaders wanted the 2013 elections postponed to allow the reforms to be implemented.
Two USA Senators; responsible for renewing the targeted US sanctions against Zanu PF leaders including President Mnangagwa, himself, first imposed in 2002; to explain what free and fair electoral goals Harare needed to achieve for the sanctions to be lifted. The goals were, a free media, produce verified voters’ roll, etc.; all a repeat of the SADC reforms.
The elections are due in August, less than four months away, and still the regime has not implemented even one democratic reform. Indeed, instead of implementing reforms the regime has been implementing its usual vote rigging plans. President Mnangagwa bought and dished out the new twin cab trucks to all the 282 Chiefs, a bribe Mugabe had promised them before he was booted out of office; for them to carry out their traditional role of intimidating rural voters to vote for Zanu PF. The party has also deployed the war veterans to campaign for the party, they were the party’s foot soldiers in the barbarism of the 2008 and 2013 elections; etc.
There is no doubt that President Mnangagwa and his junta will not be able to deliver on their promise to hold free, fair and credible elections. The regime is once again frantically trying to redefine what constitute free and fair elections. This time, it was Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister, S B Moyo’s, turn.
“It is the desire and in fact the determination of the current dispensation that we should have free, fair and credible elections,” he told his London audience in a video streamed on Zimeye.
“First and foremost, these elections must satisfy the people of Zimbabwe.
“So, whilst there can be regional and continental election benchmarks; what we are saying is everyone must observe Zimbabwean elections which are going to be in compliant with OUR Zimbabwe constitution.
“What we are saying, come and assist us in making sure our elections achieve what we want as the people of Zimbabwe.”
Minister Moyo, there is nothing special about Zimbabwe our requirements for free and fair elections are the same as everyone else. To make an informed choice, we too need a free public media and freedom of expression. We have no free media or freedom of expression.
It is madness to hold elections with no verified voters’ roll because it is impossible to audit who is on the roll; only those on the roll voted, those who voted did so only once; etc. Zimbabwe did not have a verified voters’ roll in 2013 and this is set to happen again this year. The voter registration exercise was started very late, September 2017 when it should have started January 2015, at the latest. There is no way ZEC was ever doing to register 7 million and produce a verified voters’ roll in time for this year’s elections; impossible! Already we hear ZEC registered only 5.3 million!
The international election observers will be in Zimbabwe to observe the election process and at the end of the day come out with an honest judgement whether the process was free, fair and credible and the result the democratic wish of the people of Zimbabwe. The observers are not there to argue whether or not there is a clause in the Zimbabwe constitution allowing the regime to deny the people a free public media, hold election with no verified voters’ roll, etc.
What President Mnangagwa and his regime have completely failed to understand is that it is not only the international election observers who want to see the junta keep its promise to hold free and fair elections, the foreign investors the President has been wooing for the last five months too want to see free and fair elections.
President Mnangagwa has been shouting “Zimbabwe is open for business!” from every platform, like a roaster. There has not been a flood of investors and will there ever be any in the future if Zimbabwe fails to hold free, fair and credible elections this August because that failure will confirm that the country is still ruled by thugs who have no qualms rigging elections. Investors do not do business with regimes in which the next regime change is yet another military coup or violent street protests!
If the best this new dispensation regime can do is replicate the election process of 2013 – which, no doubt, was in compliance with the Zimbabwe constitution – then why, oh why, did we need the coup November 2017 coup? Other than removing one dictator but only to replace him with another, nothing else has change, the vote rigging dictatorship itself is alive and well. So well, it is rigging the elections as usual and bullying everyone to judging the process free and fair!
By failing to deliver on the promise to hold free and fair elections President Mnangagwa has confirmed to the foreign direct investors, international election observers and the people of Zimbabwe that his regime has composed of the same corrupt, vote rigging and ruthless Zanu PF thugs up to their usual tricks! I pray the elections observers will do the honourable thing and condemn these flawed and illegal elections. –