By Patrick Guramatunhu- The Americans, the EU, the British and everyone who genuinely want to see an end to Zimbabwe’s curse of rigged elections and bad governance must focus on demanding the implementation of democratic reforms. They should be careful not to send mixed and confusing messages.
The 2018 elections proved, as if we needed any such proof, that it is impossible to hold free, fair and credible elections in Zimbabwe without first implementing democratic reforms. We know, for example, that 3 million Zimbabweans in the diaspora were denied the vote. And that ZEC failed to produce something as fundamental to democratic elections a verified voters’ roll; a legal and common-sense requirement.
It should be noted here that the law calls for the production of a verified voters’ roll at least a month before nomination day. ZEC not only failed to meet the nomination day deadline it failed to produce a verified voters’ roll for the voting day itself or thereafter. There is no verified voters’ roll in Zimbabwe! None!
“We also note the government’s selective enforcement of Covid-19 regulations to indefinitely postpone by-elections and prohibit MDC Alliance gatherings, while permitting internal elections and gatherings for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (Zanu PF) party and its allies to go forward,” said US Department of State, according to a New Zimbabwe report.
“Zanu PF is misusing the levers of government to silence critics, neutralise opposition, and entrench its political power over the Zimbabwean people.”
The US Department was reacting to recent reports that ZEC would resume voter registration and other activities. However the holding of by-elections will remain suspended.
Are we saying it is ok to hold by-elections with no verified voters’ roll?
In less than two and half years Zimbabwe will once again go to the polls and not even one of the raft of democratic reforms has been implemented. I would rather pressure this Zanu PF regime to implement the reforms and make sure 2023 elections are free, fair and credible than waste time and resources holding fraudulent by-elections.
If Zanu PF fails to implement the reforms before the 2023 elections; millions of Zimbabweans in the diaspora are denied the vote, there is no verified voters’ roll, etc., etc.; the plebiscite must be declared null and void. We must not give Zanu PF the excuse for failing to implement the reforms.
We know that Chamisa and his friends in the opposition camp are the ones itching for the by-elections regardless how flawed and illegal the process happens to be. They have participated in similar fraudulent elections in the past because they also know that Zanu PF gives away a few gravy train seats to entice the opposition – these they find irresistible.
Of course, Chamisa et al are selling out in participating in flawed and illegal elections giving the process credibility and the result legitimacy to feed their insatiable greed. We should be condemning these opposition opportunists and not be seen as their cheerleaders!