By Nomusa Garikai- Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa was a senior member of Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s government for 37 years. It is not that Mnangagwa did not know what the Zanu PF government was doing was wrong and even outright criminal like the blatant and repeated human rights violations including vote rigging and, worse, politically motivated murders. He knew that was wrong.
Indeed, Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s henchman; the dictator trusted him with some of the dirtiest and bloodiest tasks like the Gukurahundi massacre and the de facto coup to stop Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC taking power following the March 2008 elections.
Mnangagwa had carried out his assigned tasks regardless how dirty and bloody they were to help establish and retain the de facto one-party dictatorship for the simple reason that he too, not just Mugabe, benefited from the dictatorship. And, rest assured, Mnangagwa was ruthless in his fight to get his lion’s share of the spoils of absolute power!
When Mugabe tried to force Mnangagwa and those around him in the Lacoste faction out of power in favour of the G40 faction; the two crossed swords. In the small hours of 15th November 2017, it was Mugabe who was woke-up with a gun to his temple. His dream of being life-president or handing over the presidency to his ambitious wife was over.
When Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe he tried his uttermost to sever all links with Mugabe and his 37 year reign, airbrush the Mugabe era out of Zimbabwe history and turn over a new leaf. Mnangagwa proclaimed his regime “The Second Republic, a new dispensation!”
It was none other than President Mnangagwa himself who announced during his visit to the USA in September 2018 for the UN General Assembly Heads of State gathering, that all Zimbabweans in the diaspora will have a chance to vote in the 2023 elections. It was no doubt meant to reinforce the new dispensation mantra the only trouble with such an eye catching PR stunt is they boomerang right back.
There is no doubt that Zanu PF has struggled to keep its promise to guarantee diaspora vote.
“If you want a diaspora vote, first level the playing field by removing sanctions, so that Zanu-PF can go there and campaign freely without being vetted against sanctions,” announced Zanu PF Acting Political Commissar, Patrick Chinamasa in June 2021.
“We will not allow those in the diaspora the right to vote because we are under sanctions in those countries.”
This was a foolish position since it is nonsensical to deny Zimbabweans their fundamental rights over a matter beyond their control. This is like a man who beats his wife and children because he quarrelled with his neighbour!
There are 3 million Zimbabweans in the diaspora, by Zanu PF’s own record. Mnangagwa won the 2018 presidency with 2.4 million votes or 50.8% of the 5 million cast votes. The 3 million diaspora vote is therefore 37% of the 8 million potential vote.
How can the 2023 elections be free, fair and credible when Zanu PF is allowed to cherrypick the electorate and deny 37% the vote? The regime must have since realise this will not go down well even with such bodies as SADC and AU who have traditionally turned a blind eye to Zimbabwe’s
“On the diaspora vote, I would like to acknowledge that this has been an issue of intense debate and contestation among the Zimbabweans in the diaspora and the relevant stakeholders across the Zimbabwean political spectrum,” argued Melody Chaurura, Zimbabwe’s Consul General to Johannesburg.
“It is important to clearly communicate that it is the desire of the Zimbabwean government to afford every Zimbabweans including those in the diaspora, an opportunity to participate in the country’s electoral processes.
“It should be, however, understood that it has not been possible to accord diaspora vote due to legislative and logistical challenges which are yet to be overcome. We keep the hope that once these issues have been resolved by the concerned parties, the Zimbabweans in the diaspora would be able to cast their votes from their countries of residence.”
A significant improvement on Patrick Chinamasa’s blunder but This is still, nonsense. Zimbabweans in the diaspora have offered to pay US$20 or whatever to cover the cost of a diaspora vote. The amount is nothing compared to the option of having to travel back to Zimbabwe to vote.
For a regime that has pushed through parliament two constitutional amendments seeking to change no fewer than 27 different sections of the constitution. It is rich for the same regime to then talk of “legislatives challenge” stopping it from adding a simple phrase like “Ordinary Zimbabweans in distant lands will be afforded the same opportunity to vote as that currently extended to Zimbabweans in the diplomatic service, armed services, etc.” to the electoral law.
Mugabe’s administration resisted the pressure to grant every Zimbabwean his/her freedoms and human rights including the right to a meaningful vote and even the right to life for selfish political gain. This Mnangagwa regime is doing exactly the same for the same selfish reason. The Second Republic is the First Republic under new management but otherwise the two are identical in every respect in that both are a quintessential Banana Republic.