Let me start by restating Dr Mandaza’s point that there is no point in going into next year’s elections with no reforms because Zanu PF will just rig the elections just as they did in July 2013.
All our opposition politicians know that since the last elections not even one reform was implement and therefore Zanu PF will rig the election. They are tripping over each other to contest in the flawed elections regardless, just as they did in 2013, for one reason and one reason only – greed.
They know Zanu PF learned an important lesson in 2008; if its legitimacy is not going to be questioned ever again, the party must allow the opposition to win some seats. It is these give away seats that the opposition politicians are after! David Coltart admitted as much in his book.
“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,” explained Senator Coltart.
“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.”
Zanu PF got what it wanted in the July 2013 elections – no regime change. The opposition politicians got what they wanted too – the few gravy train seats. By failing to get even one reform implemented during the GNU, the opposition had reduced themselves to beggars and therefore they had to accept whatever Zanu PF gives out to them.
It is the ordinary Zimbabweans who were the big losers in July 2013 – they continued to be denied their freedoms and human rights including the right to free and fair elections and thus were stuck with the same corrupt and tyrannical regime, the economic meltdown, etc.
If the 2018 elections go ahead with no reforms in place, Zanu PF will win the presidency plus two thirds majority in parliament. The opposition will win the remaining seat, the on-going coalition talks is more about maximizing they chance of winning the give-away seats by making sure they do not split the vote and thus allow Zanu PF win. The big losers will once again be the ordinary people.
It is the ordinary people, the big losers, therefore who must understand that we must NOT go into the elections until the reforms are implemented.
“The least we require right now is elections,” explained Dr Mandaza. “There should be no elections until we tackle the crucial political hegemony that confronts us, which is reform of the state, reform of the national institutions which have been corrupted by the Mugabe regime and making certain that we have generational change in our politics.”
Unless we, the people of Zimbabwe, make a concerted effort to make sure there are NO elections with no reforms – by forcing the opposition parties to honour their party resolution of “No reform, no elections!” for example – then elections will go ahead.
I too share Violet Gonda’s pessimism that Zanu PF will ever want to give up power.
“Well that's political posturing. When the die is cast people will negotiate. We have learnt from Political Economy, no class ever commits suicide; it is the objective of every class to replace itself, and when under threat they will want to find a solution in which they can survive and see tomorrow,” replied Dr Mandaza.
President Mugabe and his ruling elite will be committing suicide in giving up power, they simply have too much to lose. The economic poverty of the masses and the fabulous wealth of the ruling elite is now an unbridgeable chasm. Whilst the masses are earning $200 per year, according to a recent AfrAsia report, the likes of Mai Mujuru and her late husband earned a cool $15.8 billion from the sale of three concernments of diamonds alone! Anyone who thinks that Zanu PF ruling elite would ever voluntarily want to share their wealth is simply daydreaming.
There is also the question of Zanu PF’s dark past; the Gukurahundi massacre, all the political motivated murders, the vote rigging, etc. When one has so many skeletons in the house; you do not want tenants, even if you need the extra income!
Besides, the pressure for Zanu PF to accept democratic reforms was greatest during the GNU and the party weathered that thanks to the breath-taking incompetence of the MDC leaders. SADC washed their hands clean of Zimbabwe after MDC failed to implement any reform, as Dr Mandaza himself has admitted in his interview.
If next year’s elections go ahead with no reforms then the USA will probably remove President Mugabe and his cronies from the targeted sanctions list. The sanctions were imposed back in 2002 and Zimbabweans have failed to bring about any meaningful change although we have had many opportunities to do so. This is just a lost cause, at least as far as outsiders are concerned. The rest of the West will follow America and lift the sanctions.
There is nothing to be gained by holding the next elections with no reforms in place; it is up to us, the people of Zimbabwe, to pressure the opposition not to take part in the flawed elections. If the elections go ahead and the international community accept the outcome as a fait accompli, the last window of opportunity to exert peaceful pressure on Zanu PF to accept reforms will close.
“We need a coalition around the need for reform and a clear definition of an alternative Zimbabwe. If it's a coalition merely to win elections to get Mugabe out, as I've said somewhere before, Mugabe's not the issue really, Mugabe is unlikely to be there at the next election, if there are elections, which I don't think there will be, next year,” concluded Dr Mandaza.
Unless the people of Zimbabwe stand up and stand firm now in demanding that there must be no elections without reforms then next year’s elections are set to go ahead. SADC’s warning to the opposition against contesting the elections with no reforms is as valid today as it was in 2013; it is up to us to make sure all opposition parties heed the warning this time! We will only have ourselves to blame if the elections go ahead!