Towards the end of the five years of the GNU anyone who was following Zimbabwe’s political drama was concerned at the lack of progress in implementing the democratic reforms agreed in the 2008 Global Political Agreement as necessary to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
“Hapana marifomu anobuda apa! Mazivanhu eMDC adzidzi kudya anyerere!” (There will be no reforms implemented, ever! These MDC leaders have learnt to enjoy the gravy train privileges and not to rock the boat.) Commented Zanu PF cronies, with that dismissive arrogance of one who knows best.
All efforts, especially by SADC leaders, to get Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC team to move on implementing the reforms came to naught. After five years, not even one reform was implemented. Not one!
In June 2013 SADC leaders made one more last desperate bid to get the reforms implemented and advised MDC leaders not to contest the elections with no reforms in place.
“If you go into elections next month, you are going to lose; the elections are done,” Tsvangirai and company were warned, according to Dr Ibbo Mandaza.
As we all know, MDC contest the July 2013 elections with no reforms in place and, lo behold, Zanu PF blatantly rig the vote and won with a landslide. Tsvangirai’s excuse for contesting the flawed elections was that “MDC believed Zanu PF’s vote rigging shenanigans would never overwhelm the party’s mass vote.”
When MDC-T Secretary General, Douglas Mwonzora, said the party would get the democratic reforms finally implemented by the end of 2015. “We will get Zanu PF, kicking and screaming to implement the reforms,” Mwonzora to New Zimbabwe.
I desperately wanted to believe Mwonzora but my gut instinct told me not to be foolish! “Totenda dzamwa dzaswera nebanzi!” (Should be grateful to see the cattle back if you ask a madman to look after them!) as one would say in Shona.
Today, two years since the promise to get the reforms implemented, not even one reform has been implemented. The next elections are set for next year and there is no chance of getting any reform agreed on, implemented and have the reform make any meaningful difference in delivering free, fair and credible elections.
“We have been tracking a clandestine voter registration scam by Zanu PF using Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede’s office outside and ahead of the legal voter registration process by ZEC, now legally mandated to carry out such exercises,” reported Luke Tamborinyoka, Tsvangirai’s spokesman.
The very fact that the official voter registration has not started will only mean the whole exercise being deliberate slowed down and then carried out in a stampede so no one has time to check anything. A common vote rigging tactic - why would the regime not want its handwork scrutinized unless it has something to hide.
So, Zimbabwe is in exactly the same position it was in June 2013 – we have no reforms in place and Zanu PF’s vote rigging machinery has already swung into action.
“If you go into elections next year, you are going to lose; the elections are done!” To paraphrase SADC leaders’ warning.
It is heart breaking to hear MDC-T give the same feeble excuses for contesting in next year’s elections even when they, themselves, acknowledge no reforms have been implemented and the vote rigging is already taking place.
“As we brace for the watershed elections in 2018, Zanu PF is at it again. The leopard has remained faithful to its spots,” wrote Tamborinyoka.
“On our part, we are urging all Zimbabweans to turn out in large numbers when the voter registration procession kicks off. We urge every eligible Zimbabwean to register and turn out to express themselves in the ballot box.
“We shall remain vigilant and while the party deals with these and other shenanigans, Zimbabweans should brace to overwhelm this corrupt system by registering in their millions and to express themselves in a massive way on voting day.”
You are right Comrade Tamborinyoka, the Zanu PF leopard does not change its spots, the regime is going full steam ahead with its preparations to rig the elections. But so too does the MDC leopard, the party will never do anything to force the implementation of the reforms. Even now MDC leaders are being careful not to rock the boat!
“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,” Senator Coltart confessed 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.”
Tsvangirai’s continued stay in the $4 million Highlands mansion and other benefits depend on MDC playing its part and giving the flawed and illegal process credibility.
If the people of Zimbabwe are serious about ending the Zanu PF dictatorship and, with it, the economic meltdown that has forced millions of them in a life of abject poverty and despair; they will have demand the implementation of the reforms themselves.
The starting point is not to trust MDC and the rest in the opposition contesting in the flawed elections to push for reforms; they have no intention of implementing the reforms, they have their own fish to fry. The single most important message to send out is that ordinary Zimbabweans do not want the elections to go ahead until the reforms are implemented to guarantee free and fair elections, period.