Zimbabwe’s economic decline is there for all the world to see; 90% unemployment rate, millions now living in abject poverty, education and health services that have all but collapsed, etc. The root causes of the economic mess are not hard to discern; the decades of mismanagement, corruption and lawlessness. What is near impossible to understand, especially to outsiders, is why Mugabe, the man at the heart of the misrule, has managed to stay in power for the last 36 years and is the favourite to win in the next elections set for 2018 given the country holds regular elections!
What the outsiders have to understand is that Zimbabwe is a multi-party democracy on paper but a de facto one party dictatorship in practice. Mugabe has become the grandmaster at holding undemocratic elections, claim they were free, fair and credible and get away with it. Having corrupt and incompetent political opponents has worked in the tyrant’s favour, the ease with which he has again and again set them off on a wild goose chase is uncanny!
“The likes of (ZimPF leader Joice) Mujuru are boasting saying we have many supporters, and we said its okay, we will see come 2018. Let the likes of (Dzikamai) Mavhaire and (Kudakwashe) Bhasikiti boast, while at their People First party with Mai Mujuru there,” Mugabe boasted in turn.
“Those who cross the floor, we say go. You were bringing disharmony, leave us in peace in Zanu PF.
“The likes of (MDC-T leader Morgan) Tsvangirai are having pot bellies and are relaxed because of Zanu PF and you are now hoarding women and we leave you with your traits. We only ask; ‘How has Zanu PF erred? Show us then how you want to run the country’? They want to return the farms to the whites,” Mugabe charged.
If Zimbabwean elections were won or lost on the basis of one’s ability or otherwise to run the country then Mugabe would certainly have been kicked out of office a long time ago. Zanu PF made a big song and dance about the party’s 2013 economic recovery plan, the $27 billion ZimAsset, and promised it would deliver 2.2 million new jobs. The people of Zimbabwe were not easily fooled; they have heard Mugabe promise economic prosperity a thousand times but never delivered. Mugabe himself knew the people would not be fooled and hence the reason he spent his time, energy and billions of dollars in treasure in the elaborate and very expensive vote rigging scheme. He threw ZimAsset as a decoy to draw the attention of his political opponents away from the democratic reforms and it worked.
Tsvangirai and his MDC friends were supposed to implement the democratic reforms necessary to ensure the elections in 2013 were free and fair; they wasted the golden opportunity formulating their own economic blueprint Jobs, Upliftment, Investment, Capital and the Environment or JUICE to match Zanu PF’s ZimAsset decoy.
Without even one reform in place, Mugabe went on to blatantly rig the 2013 elections and retain his iron grip on political power. MDC-T’s JUICE plan never saw the light of day but so did ZimAsset because the party failed to get anyone to bankroll it but Mugabe knew that would happen, it was a decoy.
Since the rigged 2013 elections the MDC opposition parties vowed to implement the democratic reforms necessary to stop Mugabe rigging the next elections and yet three years down the line still not even one reform has been implemented. Tendai Biti’s PDP has since produced its own economic blueprint HOPE and so has Joice Mujuru’s ZimPF with its BUILD in response to Mugabe’s challenge of how “to run the country”.
If no reforms are implemented before the 2018 elections then Mugabe will once again blatantly rig the elections, claim they were free and fair and, once again, get away with it!
The greatest challenge for this nation since we attained our independence in 1980 has been to make the independence work for all our people and not just the select few in power as has happened. 36 years after independence and we still have not figured out how to create a free, fair, just and prosperous Zimbabwe! Until we figure out how, this country will never ever get out of the economic and political hell-hole Mugabe has landed us in. Never!
Zimbabwe is not the first nation to find itself in the misfortune of being ruled by a corrupt and murderous tyrant, many other nations have suffered a similar fate. They suffered for a long time until they devised meaningful political change to deliver good governance. Whilst we do not need to devise what constitute meaningful political change, reinventing the wheel; there is a body of historic evidence to show that what we need are meaningful political changes, democratic reforms, to guarantee the individual freedoms and human rights including the right to free and fair elections and the right to life itself.
Our political challenge is to demand the implementation of the democratic reforms to ensure Zimbabwe is a healthy and functional multi-party democracy on paper and in practice!