In a recent interview with the Zimbabwe Independent’s deputy Editor, Faith Zaba, the British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing, assured the ordinary people of Britain’s commitment to free, fair and credible elections – the elusive holy grail Zimbabweans have been dying long before independence.
“Our government has a very clear manifesto commitment which is ‘to stand up for rule of law and human rights’,” said the Ambassador.
“An independently free and fair election will be the single most important test of whether the government of Zimbabwe really wants to go back to normal international relations.”
That should have been music to the ear of every thinking Zimbabwean out there if the Ambassador had not said others things too showing the British still do not understand the situation in Zimbabwe! And as long as the misunderstanding continues the dream of Zimbabwe’s next elections being free, fair and credible will remain a pipe-dream.
“We are still a while away from elections. We have around 18 months,” was the Ambassador’s reply to Faith’s question whether the British would accept the result of the elections carried out without meaning reforms implemented.
“In terms of the conditions to establish a free and fair election, a good starting point is the Sadc and (African Union) AU’s own recommendations from the previous election, which give us a starting point for checking what is in place. Fundamentally, it is for the opposition parties to decide whether they are going to feel they can participate in these elections on the right terms.”
There are four key points, home truths, the Ambassador has brought up that she needs to understand:
a) If we had someone else, the National Transition Authority as some people been calling for, then 18 months is enough time to implement the raft of democratic reforms to ensure the next elections are free and fair. Let us be honest and frank with each other here, we are asking Mugabe and his Zanu PF cronies to implement democratic reforms designed to dismantle the dictatorship that has kept the in power all these last 36 years?
During the GNU the country had its best chance ever to implement the democratic reforms. It was to MDC led by then PM Morgan Tsvangirai to implement the reforms; they failed to get even one reform implemented in five years.
Since the rigged July 2013 elections, the task of implemented the reforms was left to Zanu PF. Leading Zanu PF members like Professor Jonathan Moyo and Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa have already said that the party was not going to “reform itself out of power”. True enough, the regime has not implemented even a single reform since July 2013. Ambassador, you can give the regime another 18 years, not months, and no meaningful reforms will ever be implemented.
b) Whilst everyone else considers free, fair and credible election as both an inalienable human right and a key tenet for accountable and good governance Mugabe and his Zanu PF thugs considers free elections a ploy by the British and her western allies to impose regime change in Zimbabwe. And when everyone has condemned Zimbabwe’s failure to hold free and fair elections, Mugabe has celebrated it as a triumph.
“Externally, nyika dzokunze, (outside) countries that have been hostile to us and all this time expected that Zanu-PF Government shall listen to them and that there shall be the regime change, have failed to achieve that,” Mugabe boasted during the just ended Zanu PF party conference.
“There has not been regime change and there shall not be a regime change. They stand defeated on that one. We have had I think quite some success in that area.”
Mugabe has shamelessly justified harassing, beating, raping and even murdering innocent Zimbabweans in pursuance of his no-regime-change mantra and yet straight after the elections would claim the elections were free and fair to claim his legitimacy. So far, he has had his cake and eat it too!
If the British, Zimbabweans or anyone else out there are serious about forcing Mugabe and Zanu PF to implement the reforms so the country can have its first free and fair elections then they cannot allow Mugabe rig elections and pretend they do not know what free elections entail!
c) The MDC opposition had its golden opportunity to implement the reforms during the GNU when Mugabe’s hands were tied by the GPA. “Simbi inorombwa ichapisa!” (Hit the metal whilst it is still hot!) They failed to get even one reform implemented in five years and missed they chance.
Since the rigged elections Tsvangirai and his opposition parties friends have proven totally ineffective at forcing Zanu PF to implement any reforms. Zimbabwe’s opposition parties are resigned to participating in the coming elections with no meaningful reforms implemented.
Zanu PF has always allowed the opposition to win some seats during elections; a small price for the party to pay for claiming legitimacy. The opposition will be fighting each other for these scraps.
To accept the next elections as legitimate on the basis of the opposition’s decision to participate knowing the elections will be rigged is some form of collective punishment.
Why should the rest of the Zimbabwean population continue to be denied the fundament right to a meaningful vote just because of a corrupt and incompetent opposition contend to feed on the scraps Zanu PF throws at them?
Ambassador Laing, if the British are truly committed to ending Zimbabwe’s culture of holding elections marred by violence and vote rigging then it is already abundantly clear that Mugabe and Zanu PF are determined to have yet another fraudulent election. This is self-evident, one does not need to be a rocket scientist to see this.