When it comes to reforms and elections there are four basic scenarios the Zimbabwean people must be aware of. These can be present in the form of questions and answers:
a) Is it possible to have free, fair and credible elections without implementing any of the 2008 GPA democratic reforms?
Answer: it is impossible to hold free and fair elections without implement the democratic reform.
For anyone to ask this question it shows they have never appreciated what the GPA was about and so it is worthwhile explaining this before going any further. There are eight key points one has to understand about the Global Political Agreement (GPA):
1) Mugabe claimed electoral victory in Zimbabwe’s July 2008 presidential run-off but because of the wanton violence none of the outside elections observers including SADC and AU endorse the result as free, fair and credible. This created a serious legitimacy problem for Mugabe.
2) Following months of negotiations it was finally agreed, in the GPA, that the three main political parties Zanu PF led by Robert Mugabe, MDC-T led by Tsvangirai and MDC-M led by Mutambara would form a Government of Nation Unity (GNU). SADC was to be the guarantor of the agreement whose punishment would be to withdrawal legitimacy if any of the parties in the GNU failed to honour the terms of the GPA.
3) The GPA stipulated that the GNU would implement a raft of democratic reforms include security sector, media, judiciary reforms, and to draft a new democratic constitution which would be submitted to the people of Zimbabwe for approval in a referendum. These were agreed were the minimum requirements for free, fair and credible elections and thus prevent the repeat of the vote rigging and wanton violence of previous elections.
4) The GNU was supposed to last for 18 months but lasted for 60 months instead; enough time for the GNU to have carried out its set tasks.
5) Sadly not even one democratic reform was implemented at the end of the GNU. This task was for Tsvangirai and his MDC friends to do and Mugabe bribed them into doing nothing much to the disappointment of SADC and everyone else who wanted to see democratic change in the country.
6) The new constitution was weak and feeble since it was designed to accommodate the undemocratic practices which were still in place since no democratic reforms had been implemented.
7) The people were not paying attention to what was happening and so they failed to apply the necessary pressure to force the implementation of the reforms. As for the new constitution they believe MDC lies that it would deliver free and fair elections without even reading it for themselves.
8) Mugabe went on to blatantly rig the July 2013 elections to mark the end of the GPA, SADC washed its hands of Zimbabwe.
So the fuller answer to the question can there be free, fair and credible elections with no reforms implemented; the answer is as long as Mugabe and Zanu PF retain total and undemocratic control of the Police, Media, Judiciary, ZEC, etc. they will continued to use violence and dirty tricks to rig the vote.
B) Will implementing Tsvangirai’s proposed electoral laws, MDC-T’s National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA), be enough to deliver free, fair and credible elections!
Answer: No NERA seeks to align existing laws to the new constitution which, as stated in 6) above, is itself a weak constitution and thus inadequate for free and fair.
c) If the next elections are held in the present one-party dictatorship conditions, is there any chance of getting the new regime to implement all the GPA reforms so that future elections are free, fair and credible.
Answer: No chance! Whoever wins the next elections would want the dictatorial powers to consolidate their own political power.
Dictatorial powers are to politics what corruption is to the economy. We have failed to eradicate corruption because whilst everyone denounces it whilst they still seeking power, once in power it would be in their power to deal with corruption but also to benefit from it most people always end up doing the latter. All those contesting the next elections appreciate Mugabe’s dictatorial powers and they would all want those powers for themselves.
d) Is there any hope, any hope at all, of forcing the implementation of the GPA reform so the next elections are free, fair and credible.
Answer: Yes there is. Mugabe has failed to rig economic recovery and the worsening economic meltdown is unsustainable; unemployment is already at 90% plus, millions are living in serious abject poverty –the type that is killing its victims, most cities and towns have no clean running water, etc. The situation is getting worse and not better.