“Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved,” said Jesus. Matthew 9:14–17.
Zimbabwe politics is a catalogue of stupid mistakes; putting new wine into old worn-out bottles and ending up losing both the wine and the bottles. When will we learn!
Implementing the democratic reforms is the key to ending Zanu PF misrule.
By the late 1990s the people of Zimbabwe had figured it out that the nation will need democratic changes if they are ever going to end Zanu PF’s corrupt and tyrannical rule. The country’s best chance by a long mile to implement the democratic reforms was during the 2008 to 2013 GNU. Sadly, Tsvangirai and his MDC friends failed to get even one reform implemented. Not one!
MDC leaders were warned not to contest the 2013 elections without implementing the reforms but they would not listen. Senator David Coltart has explained why MDC ignored the warning.
“The worst aspect for me about the failure to agree a coalition was that both MDCs couldn’t now do the obvious – withdraw from the elections,” wrote Senator Coltart in his book.
“The electoral process was so flawed, so illegal, that the only logical step was to withdraw, which would compel SADC to hold Zanu PF to account. But such was the distrust between the MDC-T and MDC-N that neither could withdraw for fear that the other would remain in the elections, winning seats and giving the process credibility.”
The MDC leaders promised to implement the reforms after the rigged July 2013 elections, promising that they will not contest any future elections until reforms are implemented. Sadly, they have failed to get even one reform implemented but, sadder still, they are now preparing to contest the next elections in total disregard of the reality the elections will be flawed and their promise not to contest another flawed election.
Zimbabwe is in this economic and political mess because we have allowed Mugabe to establish and retain this corrupt and tyrannical de facto one-party dictatorship. The 37 years of misrule has been a disaster to the nation resulting in heart breaking human misery and over 30 000 killed in cold blood for selfish political gain. We need to implement the reforms if we are ever to get out of this hell-hole!
Opposition’s false hope of ending Zanu PF rule.
Yes, voter apathy and splitting the opposition vote have helped to keep Zanu PF in power in the first 20 years or so of our independence but time has moved on and the regime’s vote rigging has since evolved to deal with these issues. So, the call by the opposition to mobilise people to register and then to vote next year will not deliver the electoral victory they claim.
Zanu PF has made voter registration and voting in its party strongholds a breeze whilst making them near impossible in opposition strongholds. In preparation for the 2013 elections, there were more voter registration centres in Mhondoro with a population of 100 000 than in Harare or Bulawayo with a population of 2 million each, for example. The country will need a completely new voters roll for next year now that the decision has been made to use the biometric system; no doubt, the regime will make it as taxing as possible for the opposition supporters to register and then to vote.
The regime has many other vote rigging tools in its kit to deal with any surprises it may encounter. In the March 2008 vote Tsvangirai garnered 73% of the vote, by Mugabe’s own admission; the regime dealt with this, thanks to the tyrant’s total control of ZEC. After six weeks of recounting 5 million votes, ZEC reduced Tsvangirai’s tally to 47% - underlining the point that it is not enough to amass the votes if you cannot trust those who will count the votes.
In the July 2008 run-off that followed Mugabe using wanton violence, his most tried and trusted vote rigging tool, to overturned Tsvangirai’s 73% votes into an 85% landslide victory for himself!
In the 2013 elections Mugabe rigged the vote and walked away with 62% of the votes. In the recent Bikita West by-elections there were reports of the usual vote-buying and blatant intimidation by Zanu PF. The Zanu PF candidate won with a massive 78%. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to know that field one opposition candidate in all these cases will not have changed winner.
Those in the opposition camp are emphasising on voter mobilisation and ignoring the sheer extend and sophistication of Zanu PF’s vote rigging ability. The opposition is also wasting time forming a grand coalition to address a none existing the problem of vote splitting.
The national tragedy of the “Mugabe must go!” mantra
It is important to realise that the Zimbabwe’s corrupt and tyrannical system of government is more than the individual or a few individuals but rather a political ethos that has permeated and penetrated deep into Zimbabwe society. We not only have a tyrant in the highest office in the land, we have tyrants at every level below him right down to the village thug terrorising the people in the name of Zanu PF.
We need to implement the democratic reforms not just remove Mugabe and a few of his cronies from power but to dismantle the whole dictatorship. If next year’s election fail to remove Mugabe and Zanu PF from power then they will be judged as a total failure.
However, even if next year’s elections removed of Mugabe and Zanu PF from office they must still be judged a failure because with no reforms in place the dictatorial system of government will still be in place – under new management. Tsvangirai, Mujuru or whoever is elected then will implement only a few democratic reforms, at best. Once in power, every few people would ever want to implement democratic reforms that will undermine their own ability to hold on to power, especially if they are already known to be corrupt and incompetent. Look what happened in Zambia!
The late Frederick Chiluba, was elected president of Zambia in 1991 on a ticket to deliver multi-party democracy but within weeks of assuming office he was haunting the country’s small independent media although it is the one that helped him win the presidency. He soon had the muzzle on the independent media whilst retaining total control of the public media just as his predecessor, Kenneth Kaunda had done.
One of the essential requirements for free, fair and credible elections is that the electorate must be well informed, an impossible task in a country with no freedom of expression and a free and independent media. The people of Zambia were glad to finally end Kaunda’s 27 years in power, just as we will be glad to end Mugabe’s 38 years in power, but other than that they have every reason to be miserable because they are still stuck with the curse of successive mediocre governments.
Zambia’s 1991 political change remove Kenneth Kaunda and has stopped future presidents staying in office beyond the maximum two terms. However, the democratic changes were not far reaching and ambitious enough to stop the election of corrupt and incompetent individuals into office.
Mugabe’s reign of terror is drawing to a close; we have the golden opportunity to set a new path for the country to follow. We can choose the path of freedom, justice and economic prosperity, guaranteed by good and competent democratic government; ours if implement all the democratic reforms before we install the next government. If we fudge it and install a new government after holding flawed elections then not all reforms will ever be implemented and we will condemn ourselves and posterity to mediocre governments led by corrupt and incompetent leaders.
We have had many opportunities to establish a healthy and functional system government in the past this could well be our last chance in a generation to get it right. I will be damned if all we manage is ensure future tyrants do not stay in power beyond the maximum two terms because it will only show that we, as a nation, have learnt nothing from other people and our past mistakes! After 38 years of blundering failures with tragic consequences; we still make the same foolish mistakes of putting new wine in old wine bottles!