The dramatic characteristics of the Zimbabwean election is gone with the legendary former president Robert Mugabe as his exit left the political scene dull with unusual peace and calmness, an award-winning playwright has said.
Controversial playwright and actor Cont Mhlanga said with a few days to go to the Election Day and by normal standards when Mugabe was participating, this is the most boring election by comparison.
“Now that he is gone, the ‘Mugabe Must Go’ political factor energy and excitement has left many in our politics without a clear purpose and mission.
“Civil Society Organisations have also not been spared. Even the arts sector lost steam to zero.
“The international community too has responded to the Mugabe factor with election observers over flooding to this election.
“Like it or not this proves that Mugabe was the political soul and centre of Zimbabwean politics,” said Mhlanga.
He said Zanu PF had over focused on Mugabe as their sole Messiah while those in the opposition as their sole Lucifer forgetting that they will always be life after him (Mugabe) and a country to be developed.
“The swift activity decline and scattering of opposition politics to over 100 or so political parties and 23 presidential candidates speaks volumes of the impact of the ‘Mugabe Must Go political’ factor.
“It proves he was the glue that kept them united and the enemy that gave them purpose and reasonable speeches.
“In the Mugabe era they developed thick skins of the politics of blame and excuses.
“With Mugabe not in the centre of political action anymore they have to find a new enemy, new blame targets and new excuses, hence different focus and directions this time around in this election.
“And after the ballot we will see if Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has become the new enemy and a substitute to ‘Mugabe Must Go’ agenda.”
Mhlanga said Mugabe’s election campaigns have always been full of election violence drama and action since the 80s starting with Gukurahundi.
“This always gave political actors in Zimbabwe an emotional election agenda to take to the people and to the international community.
“Now that Mugabe is gone with his election violence drama, the political actors are now left politically bankrupt running with very shallow campaign agendas and issues.”
The playwright believes NGOs thrived in Mugabe’s election time in the field of Human Rights though narrow and selective.
“Now that Mugabe is gone, the funding for those activities has dried up and it is noticeable with their reduced appearances and activities in this election.”
He said Mnangagwa’s main election message is influenced by the Mugabe era.
“It is about how he fell from being vice president to rise to be president.
“All candidates are silent on how they will address current economic challenges facing the nation such as unemployment, cash shortages, rural economic growth, unplanned informal sector, urban planning chaos and so on.
“Political economy debate is very shallow, limited to Zimbabwe is open for business and international engagements… if not official launching of this or that.”
Mhlanga, however, said the removal of Mugabe from power — never mind how — has brought an immediate change to doing political business in Zimbabwe.
“Not just change but very positive change as witnessed by how Zimbabweans have conducted themselves during this first post Mugabe election.
“This for sure gives those who removed him credit even if it is the same people who sustained him for many years.”
He added that Zimbabweans have come to know and accept that there is life after Mugabe, and even better civilised ways of conducting political and government business.
“Now the next point of interest will be to see if Mugabe’s absence in government after the elections will also translate to immediate change in the economic sphere of the country like it did in the political sphere.
“Will we see a change in the ways government and citizens conduct business as a departure from doing business when Mugabe was still the centre of Zimbabwean politics?”