By Nomusa Garikai- As much as Zimbabwe’s opposition would like to pretend Zimbabwe is on the same political trajectory of peaceful free, fair and credible elections as Zambia; the reality on the ground tells it own story.
“On 22 August close to 30 villagers were forced to convene at Nyamuyaruka Business Centre, Ward 10 in Mudzi North. It is alleged that Zanu-PF activists Portia Chijaka and John Sarafunga forced villagers to convene before forcing them to contribute money to assist local war veterans and war collaborators. Villagers with no cash were told that they could support the process through providing maize grain and groundnuts,” reported Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP).
“Vendors were told that only Zanu-PF supporters would be allowed to sell their wares at the Murewa vegetable market.”
In Chegutu district, artisanal miners, “makorokoza”, have realigned themselves with the ruling party Zanu PF and are now terrorising residents.
Ever since the country’s independence in 1980, rural areas have remained Zanu PF strongholds not because the people in the rural areas have prospered in any way. Indeed, the rural people are at the bottom of the economic packing order and therefore have suffered the consequences of the country’s economic melt down the hardest.
Zanu PF’s continue political hold on the rural populous is derived from the party’s total control and domination of ever facade of human life in the rural areas. The party operatives have but reduced the rural people into medieval serfs beholden to the overbearing landlords – Zanu PF operatives. The villagers are frog marched to attend Zanu PF rallies and, when the time comes, to vote for the party. They do not dare do otherwise!
“Matabeleland South province, in Silozwana village, Matobo North, a Zanu-PF activist identified as Martin Sibindi allegedly intimidated villagers telling them that they shall be monitored if they vote for the MDC Alliance,” continued the ZPP report.
“It is said that Sibindi made these remarks during a community meeting as he was encouraging people to register to vote. It is reported that Sibindi warned that a mechanism had been drawn up to monitor and punish those that might vote for other MDC Alliance and other parties.”
This was not an empty threat as Zanu PF has devised various ways of knowing whom the individual voted for. In the 2008 elections, for example, there were 2 000 Polling Stations or 10 Polling Stations in each constituency. Each Polling Station had the same constituency voters’ roll so the voters could cast their vote in anyone of the 10 Polling Stations.
Zanu PF, without consulting anyone else, has since increased the number of Polling station to over 11 000 in 2018 or 50 Polling Station per constituency. This time there was a Polling Station specific voters’ roll and so only those of the roll could vote. With 500 or so on the voters’ roll it was much easier to guess how each one of them would have voted, especial in a rural community setting where there are few strangers.
How can the elections be free, fair and credible when the majority of the rural voters, 50% plus of the voters, are hostages to one contestant, Zanu PF?
Zanu PF has many other ways of ensuring electoral advantage such as denying the Zimbabweans in the diaspora the vote. There are 3 million plus Zimbabweans in the diaspora, a considerable number given Mnangagwa won the 2018 presidential race with 2.4 million votes or 50.8% of the cast votes.
Mnangagwa promised the Zimbabweans in the diaspora will have the vote in 2023. Zanu PF has since announced the diasporans will not have the vote “as long as the sanctions imposed by the West on some Zanu PF leaders remain”. Why ordinary Zimbabweans should be denied their fundamental right to a meaningful say in the governance of the country over something they had no say over beggars belief!
At least 2 million of the Zimbabweans in the diaspora are in SADC countries or some other countries that have not imposed sanctions on the Zanu PF leaders. Why are these Zimbabweans being denied the vote too?
How can the elections be legal, free, fair and credible in when 3 million Zimbabweans out of a potential 8 million voters are being blatantly denied the vote?
President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia was elected last month with 60% of the popular vote. In 2008 Morgan Tsvangirai garnered 73% of the popular vote, by the late Robert Mugabe’s Freudian slip, and still that was not good enough to secure him the presidency.
After 41 years of rigged elections it is clear as day that Zimbabwe will never ever hold free, fair and credible elections without first implement the democratic reforms designed to take away Zanu PF’s carte blanche powers to hold the rural voters to ransom, deny whatever segment of the electorate the vote, etc.
There is a simple reason why Nelson Chamisa and his MDC A friends are ignoring the overwhelming evidence the 2023 elections will not be free, fair and credible and remain resolutely determined to participate in the elections. It is the same simple reason why Chamisa and the 21 others contested the 2018 presidential rat race. The same simple reason Chamisa, Tendai Biti, Morgan Tsvangirai and the rest of the MDC leaders failed to implement even one reform during in the 2008 to 2013 GNU. The simple reason in all above is greed.
Mugabe bribed Tsvangirai and company with the trappings of high office during the GNU and they forgot about implementing the democratic reforms. Mnangagwa is dangling the offer of a few gravy train seats, a cut of the annual Political Party Finance Act payout, generous perks to the presidential candidates who join POLAD and ambassadorship to those opposition politicians who have proven particularly affable to the Zanu PF dictatorship.
The people of Zimbabwe have risked property, livelihood, life and limb in the fight to end white colonial oppression and exploitation only to be betrayed by Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF cronies. Zanu PF has denied the people their freedoms and rights including the right to a meaningful say in the governance of the country and even the right to life.
Zanu PF has murdered over 35 000 innocent Zimbabweans since independence in 1980 for the sole purpose of establishing and retaining the de facto one party dictatorship that has remained to this day.
The people of Zimbabwe have once again risked it all, personal comfort and even life, in the fight to end the Zanu PF dictatorship. There have been many golden opportunities to end the dictatorship but MDC leaders have wasted them all because they are corrupt and breathtakingly incompetent. Ever since the GNU debacle, MDC leaders are the one keeping Zanu PF in power by participating in flawed elections and thus giving vote rigging Zanu PF legitimacy.
Zimbabwe has been drifting deeper and deeper into this man-made hell-on-earth for the last 41 years. As long as the country remains a Banana Republic, a pariah state, ruled by corrupt, incompetent and murderous thugs; there is no hope of stopping the rot. We have been stuck with this corrupt, incompetent and tyrannical Zanu PF regime because it rigged elections and denied us, the people, a meaningful say in the governance of the country.
Nothing of any substance or meaning can ever be accomplished until we cure cure ourselves of the curse of rigged elections and bad governance. Nothing!
It is most disconcerting that the MDC leaders, the men and women nation had risked all to elect into power for the express purpose of ending the Zanu PF dictatorship, are the ones helping to perpetuate it!
Both Zanu PF and MDC are equally determined that the 2023 elections must go ahead regardless of the overwhelming evidence Zanu PF is rigging the elections. There is little we can do to stop the elections going ahead. What we can do is making sure the elections are seen for what they are a farce and thus dismissed as null and void.
The 2008 to 2013 GNU failed to implement the democratic reforms to ensure free, fair and credible elections, we must the opportunity created by the 2023 to produce a legitimate government to appoint a GNU that will implement the reforms.