Mnangagwa regime now agrees with Smith when he said, “democracy isn’t the counting of heads like sheep”!
by Tendai Ruben Mbofana
As I was studying ZEC spokesperson, Jasper Mangwana, struggle and stutter in his faltered attempts at justifying the exorbitant and extortionary fees recently announced by the country’s electoral commission, I could not help feeling that the Zimbabwe government was now finally and officially sounding exactly like Rhodesia Prime Minister Ian Douglas Smith.
How things have drastically changed, right in front of our eyes!
‘Animal Farm’ was truly a work of pure genius – in its accurate capture of how a supposed liberator can so easily morph into the very image and likeness of the oppressor he removed.
Furthermore, as events in Zimbabwe play out, it becomes clearer how those who perceived themselves as the emancipator could transform without apparently even noticing what and who they had become – to the extent of justifying the same dastardly things they once found unacceptable, and condemned outrightly.
So, the ‘independent’ Zimbabwe government, led by Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, earnestly believes that setting outrageous and shocking astronomical registration fees for presidential and parliamentary electoral candidates – at US$20,000 and US$1,000 respectively – is an astute way of vetting authentic contenders, as opposed to mere ‘chancers’?
In the ‘brilliant’ minds of those in power in this country – pegging fees that are undeniably out of reach of the majority, is intended for prospective bearers “to show commitment to the office they are contesting for”!
Wow, so in other words, only the wealthy are the ones who would be able to show this commitment – since, clearly the vast majority of Zimbabweans are finding it extremely impossible to make ends meet, even unable to pay school fees for their children.
In fact, Mangwana went further questioning, “how will one administer the budgets/allocated devolution funds at council if their only qualification and commitment is that they are 18 years old and a Zimbabwean citizen”?
As far as the Mnangagwa administration is concerned, only those with money are educated and competent enough to administer budgets – and, anyone else, no matter how many university degrees they may possess and exceptional experience under their belts, but as long as they can not afford these illogical fees, they are effectively illiterate and ignorant.
Therefore, if I want to run as president, on an independent ticket – genuinely believing that I have what it takes to take this country to a higher level – my inability to raise US$20,000 renders me incompetent and lacking the commitment to govern.
Such reasoning is not only sickening and primitive, but also smacks of a regime that has lost its marbles, and tittering on the brink of insanity.
I am reminded of the statement by Smith – after the tightening of laws regulating the eligibility of those seeking to vote in Rhodesian elections, which demanded conditions which were undoubtedly out of the reach of the vast majority of black voters.
To be included on the ‘B’ Roll, they were required to own immovable property worthy $1,306, or had been earning an annual salary of $739 for at least two years, as well as being able to read and write (in a country where most black people were illiterate, the average annual income for a black person was less than $319, and could not afford any immovable property).
On the other hand, the so-called ‘A’ Roll (whereby, one was required to earn $2,218 per annum, and own immovable property worth $4,620), of the 95,000 registered to vote, 90,800 were of white, coloured (mixed race), and Asian decent, whose average annual salary was $3,428.
What was Smith’s justification for such unashamed disenfranchisement of potential black voters?
Well, he is reported to have said, “democracy wasn’t the counting of heads like sheep” – and, there was need for any who desired to exercise their right to vote, to show enough learning and understanding of what exactly they are voting for.
At the time, our nationalist and liberation movements perceived this as nothing more than an unpardonable insult on the black population – whereby, they were obviously considered too daft to fully comprehend ‘complex’ issues of politics and matters of state, unless if they were relatively wealthy.
In fact, this was one of the major factors leading to the armed war of independence – premised on the concept of ‘one man one vote’, and ‘majority rule’.
Yet, today – the same nationalist and liberation movement is clamoring and defending the same discrimination that led them to take up guns, in the first place.
How can those in power in Zimbabwe reconcile the reasoning behind their senseless presidential and parliamentary electoral candidates’ registration fees, and what Smith said about his requirements for voter registration?
What is the difference?
Does the reckless insensitive statement by ZEC not sound eerily similar to that made by Smith.
Good old George’s Orwell was right, after all – too too right!
How easy it is for the liberator to eventually sound and act exactly as the oppressor!
● Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email: [email protected]