There are those who have welcome the moves in the opposition camp to unity to form a coalition as great thing; some have even gone so far as to say this is “the game changer”, regime change next year is now a certainty. The nation’s hopes of meaningful political change were raised to similar heights in 2013 and we all know what happened; Zanu PF rigged the elections with ease.
The reality is not even one democratic reform designed to stop Zanu PF rigging the elections again has been implemented; those who think Zanu PF will not rig the vote are insane, those who think Zanu PF will rig the vote but, somehow, the opposition will still win the elections are insane too.
Those who are placing their hopes the opposition winning the elections with no reforms in place are doing so because they have never understood what the GNU was about. Allow me to give you a brief guide.
Let us start by asking; did MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai lose the 2013 elections because the opposition split the vote? The answer to has to be a big NO! Robert Mugabe got 62% of the vote; so, even if Tsvangirai had been the only coalition candidate in the race and got all the remaining vote he would have got 38% and still lost.
Tsvangirai complained that the elections were not free, fair and credible; Zanu PF "stole" the elections, he said. Many people in Zimbabwe, in SADC notably President Ian Khama of Botswana, in the USA, Australia and EU, all agreed the elections were rigged which is why the West refused to remove the targeted sanctions imposed on President Mugabe and some of his cronies for the same offence.
The clearest picture of what Zanu PF will do to win elections was shown in the 2008 elections. In the March vote Tsvangirai won 54% of the votes, according to MDC-T MP Eddie Cross, and 73%, according to President Mugabe's own inadvertent admission. However, after six weeks of recounting 5 million ballots ZEC announced that Tsvangirai got 47% to Mugabe’s 43%.
There only logical reason why ZEC took six weeks to recount 5 million votes is that they had to “cook” the country wide result too. There is other anecdotal evidence such as operation “bhora musango” (kick ball into the bush) in which Zanu PF supporters voted for the party’s MP candidate but vote the MDC presidential candidate. Mugabe has complained of this and yet the ZEC result gives only a 4% margin between the two candidates!
In the presidential run-off that followed Mugabe launched a military style operation “Mavhotera papi!” (Whom did you vote for!) in which the people were harassed, beaten, raped and over 500 murdered in an act of collective punishment for having rejected Mugabe in the March and to force them to vote for him in the July vote. It worked, Mugabe gunned 84% of the vote.
The wanton violence of April to July 2008 were so brutal and widespread that not even SADC and AU elections observers could ignore what happened. They refused to endorse elections as free and fair leaving Mugabe with a legitimacy headache.
SADC agreed to give Mugabe the legitimacy he craved for on condition he joined with Tsvangirai and his MDC friends form a Government of National Unity (GNU) and agreed the said GNU would implement a raft of democratic reforms and write a new democratic constitution to ensure the next election and future elections are free, fair and credible. SADC was the guarantor of this agreement.
There are number of important things about the GNU but here are some of the top ones:
1) The raft of democratic reforms were designed break the undemocratic practices and controls imposed by President Mugabe on state institutions like ZEC, Police, CIO, Judiciary, Public Media, etc. turning these quangos into Zanu PF departments there to implement his selfish interests particularly his no-regime-change mantra at all cost no matter what. An independent ZEC, for example, would have never falsified the vote count in the March 2008 result.
And an independent and none partisan Police force would not turn a blind eye to politically motivated violence much less play an active role in perpetrating wanton violence. ZRP Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri has admits doing all these thing in his Doctorate Thesis. His excuse is he was stopping “regime change agents!” Police reforms would put an end to this.
2) The GPA did not give an instruction as to order, procedure, etc. to be followed in implementing the reforms, such detail was not real necessary. One possible route was for a MP or group of MPs to propose and table in parliament the legal and practical reforms required to end Zanu PF’s control of ZEC to ensure its independence and empower it to carry out its statutory duty of delivering free, fair and credible elections.
Parliament will then debate and refine the proposals and pass them. The State President will then sign the proposal ready for implementing.
3) If anyone in the GNU had resisted the reforms in any way, then it for the MP, group of MPs, political party or anyone in a position of power and authority in the GNU to flag this with SADC who, as the guarantor, would take the necessary action to ensure the GNU delivered on its primary task of delivering free, fair and credible election.
No one in the two MDC factions or Zanu PF ever complained about lack of progress in implement reforms. Indeed, it was SADC leaders who reminded MDC leaders of the need to “follow the GPA roadmap and implement the reforms.”
4) It was for MDC leaders to ensure the reforms were implemented for the simple reason that failure to do so suited Zanu PF in that they would rig the elections as before.
5) Tsvangirai called the new 2013 constitution an “MDC child” and promised it would deliver all our freedoms and human rights including the right to free, fair and credible elections. The Zanu PF MP, Paul Mangwana, who was the co-chairperson of the parliamentary committee tasked to draft the new constitution, boasted soon after the people voted to approve it, that President Mugabe “dictated” the whole document.
The test of the pudding is in the eating; the 2013 elections were not free and fair and to this day the people continue to be routinely denied the freedoms and other basic human rights. It is now four years since the new constitution was promulgated into law and still people continue to be denied their freedoms and rights; there have been numerous constitutional court challenges but to no avail.
The truth the new constitution is weak and feeble. It gives “excessive powers to the State President without the usual democratic checks and balances,” David Coltart has readily admitted in his recent book.
So, Paul Mangwana was right; Mugabe dictated the new constitution complete with the “excessive powers” for himself!
Those in the opposition camp such as in NERA, claim that the country needs only to realign existing laws to the new constitution to ensure free and fair elections. They are chasing the desert mirage and the nation will be foolish to listen to them. Ask them to give one simple example of realignment they are calling for and they will never answer. They have no answer because no such answer exists! A weak and feeble constitution will never deliver free and fair election because having granted the tyrant State President excessive powers it is powerless to stop him/her exercising the absolute power.
6) The GNU was originally meant to last 18 months, in the end it lasted 60 months and still it failed to implement even one democratic reform.
As a last act of desperation, SADC leaders begged MDC leaders not to contest the 2013 elections with no reforms in place but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Even though it became self-evident even to the MDC leaders themselves that Zanu PF was going to rig the elections still they did not withdraw because their beady eyes were set on winning even few gravy train seats Zanu PF was giving away if only to avoid the legitimacy embarrassment of July 2008.
7) Contesting elections with no democratic reforms to stop vote rigging is an act of insanity because only a fool would contest an election which he knows would be rigged. Yet this exactly what the opposition did in 2013 and they are now gearing to repeat in 2018 all for the few bribe seats from Zanu PF.
8) After 37 years of corrupt and tyrannical rule by Zanu PF Zimbabwe’s economy is in a real mess; unemployment has soared to nauseating height of 90%, basic services such as health and education have all but collapse, corruption is rampant, millions now live in abject poverty. The country is on the edge of a precipice, any false move and the country will descend social unrest or worse. We do not want Zimbabwe to become just another Somalia or worse.
9) Now that Mugabe has been freed of his obligation to implement the reforms with the expiring of the GNU, it is not going to be easy to force Zanu PF to accept revisiting the reforms again. Still the fact that it is a difficult task does not mean we should abandon it much less do the wrong and insane thing by contesting flawed elections.
10) If we can force the opposition not to contest the elections until reforms are implemented then Zanu PF will have the same legitimacy problem of July 2008. Of course, SADC do not want Zimbabweans to contest flawed elections, they said so in 2013 and they have not changed their position. The West too do not want us to go into the elections with no reforms in place; why would they still have the targeted sanction against Mugabe if they approved him rigging the elections.
If Zimbabwe fails to hold a free, fair and credible election and deliver meaningful political change, the essential re-requisite for meaningful economic recovery; this could well be the false move to finally send the country over the edge. It will get me no pleasure in saying, “I told you so!”
The task in hand is to do everything, absolutely everything, to make sure that as many as possible understand that the proposition coalition will not stop Zanu PF rigging the elections only implementing the reforms will. We cannot afford getting it wrong again this time because the consequences of another rigged elections will be tragic! Be warned.
Let those with eyes to see, see; let those with ears to hear, hear. Of course, it is not all who see who perceive and it is not all who hear who understand. I accept that some people are totally incapable of perceiving and/or understanding for a variety of reasons, reasons the reader can figure out for him/herself. Just remember, we are are not in this mess by accident!