By Wilbert Mukori- The root cause of Zimbabwe’s crippling economic meltdown and political paralysis (politicians on both sides of the political divide are corrupt, incompetent and utterly useless) is the failure to hold free, fair and credible elections.
In this day and age; it is 2 500 years after the Greeks gave humanity democracy as a system of government and 40 years after our own national independence; one would think Zimbabweans have finally figured out what constitute free and democratic elections. Sadly, we are still shooting in the dark!
“Unless politicians explain to us the importance of voting in this current environment, I would suggest that Zimbabweans should boycott all elections,” twittered Prof Mlambo.
“How many disputed elections have we had so far & what has come out of it?” responded Lynne M.
“The liberation struggle reclaimed the vote for the indigenous population. That’s why the right to vote is in the Bill of Rights under s67 of the Constitution. To boycott such a fundamental right would be wrong & dangerous. The people must just fight to defend their vote. Period!” chipped in Professor Jonathan Moyo.
“One man! One vote!” was the clarion call used by the black nationalist leaders to mobilise the indigenous population in the fight to end white colonial oppression and exploitation. However, both PF Zapu and Zanu PF, the two main political parties waging the armed struggle against the white colonial government, ditched the idea of giving the populous a free vote long before the country attain her independence. They both wanted to impose a one-party state in Zimbabwe.
It was agreed in the Lancaster House talks that Zanu PF and PF Zapu will withdraw their freedom fighters to designated assembly points during the campaigning period leading to the elections to usher the country’s independence. Zanu PF left many of its operatives in the field and their message to the electorate was that if Zanu PF did not win the elections the civil war will continue.
So in 1980, the people of Zimbabwe voted to end the war.
Some people dismissed the Zanu PF threat of waging a new civil war if the party had lost as political posturing. The doubting Thomas were proven wrong when Zanu PF launch the 1983 to 1987 Gukurahundi massacre whose principle purpose was to force PF Zapu to sign the Unity Accord clearing the way for the formation of the de facto Zanu PF one-party dictatorship that has ruled the country to this day.
Zanu PF has corrupted the state institutions turning the Police, Army, Judiciary, ZEC, etc. into Zanu PF departments in all but name whose principle purpose was to consolidate the party’s strangle hold on power. The country has held regular elections but Zanu PF has blatantly rigged the elections and has often resorted to the use of wanton violence silence it political critics and opponents.
It was as clear as day Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF cronies were after absolute power and the influence and wealth it brought with it and they considered absolute power as they just reward for having waged the war against the whites. They did not consider the freedoms and rights of the common people, including the right to a meaningful vote and even the right to life, as important.
To expect a ruthless, incompetent and corrupt thug like Robert Mugabe or Emmerson Mnangagwa to be a midwife to a free and democratic Zimbabwe is like expecting a hyena to play midwife to a goat! It will eat the birth sack, the kid and the mother!
Zimbabwe has had a number of opportunities to end the Zanu PF dictatorship and golden opportunities were during the 2008 to 2013 GNU. SADC leaders had arm twisted Zanu PF into agreeing to the implementation of a raft of democratic reforms designed to take away the party’s carte blanche dictatorial powers.
Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends were tasked to implement the reforms. Mugabe bribed them with the trappings of high office and they failed to implement even one meaningful reform in 5 years.
SADC leaders tried to have Zimbabwe’s 2013 postponed until reforms are implemented.
“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 told Journalist Violet Gonda.
“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.”
On return back to Zimbabwe, Zanu PF argued against postponing the elections on the grounds the proposed reforms should have been submitted to parliament. Patrick Chinamasa, then Zanu PF minister for Justice and Parliamentary Affairs explained that parliament has never block even one reform proposal throughout the GNU. It is worth noting the Professor Jonathan Moyo sat next to Minister Chinamasa at that press conference.
Of course, MDC would have looked foolish boycotting the 2013 elections to protest the failure to implement the reforms when they are the ones who failed to submit even one reform proposal in 5 years of the GNU.
Still, by participating in the flawed and illegal elections the opposition have given credibility to the election process and by extension given legitimacy to the vote rigging Zanu PF.
Ever since MDC leaders failed to get even one reform implemented during the 2008 GNU, they have given up getting reforms implemented and focused instead on getting Zanu PF to give up as much as possible of the spoils of power – payment for continued participation and giving Zanu PF legitimacy.
The people of Zimbabwe have risked life and limb to elect MDC leaders into power on the understanding they will implement the democratic reforms the nation has been dying for. They have become jackals content to feed on whatever scraps the hyena leaves behind.
Zimbabweans have yet to cast a meaningful vote in free, fair and credible elections. It is rhetorical nonsense to say the “people must just fight to defend their vote”. One does not defend something they do not have and never had. This generation, just like the generation before independence is having to fight for “One man! One vote!”
Securing our right to hold those in office to account is the first base and without it we cannot stop the mismanagement, corruption and and tyrannical oppression. The fact that so many Zimbabwe still have no clue what the 2008 GNU was about and hence fail to appreciate how MDC leaders have sold out speaks volumes about how naive and gullible Zimbabweans are. As long as we remain naive and gullible, there will be rigged elections and we will remain stuck with the curse of bad governance.
Demand for the illegitimate Zanu PF regime to step down, boycotting elections, street protests and all the other actions only assume a new meaning when exercised by voters who know and understand the freedoms and rights. Knowing what constitutes free, fair and credible elections is not rocket science, the only reason these things remain a mystery is because Zimbabweans have not made the effort.