We need tolerance and diversity

The people of Zimbabwe have spoken. More than 80% of the registered voters boycotted the sham senatorial elections - despite the combined best efforts of Zanu (PF) and the MDC rebels to persuade them to go to the polls. The statistics speak volumes. One analysis maintains that Zanu (PF) held back

in Bulawayo to give the MDC pro-Senate faction some seats and that in those areas rigging was minimal. MDC won the five seats there with a 7.5 percent poll. If this is indeed the case, it would mean that the total poll of 19,48 percent was the result of wholesale rigging.

Across the whole country, only 631 000 voters turned out. Of these, three per cent spoiled their votes and 124 000 voted for the MDC candidates despite the boycott call by Morgan Tsvangirai. The message is clear  the people of Zimbabwe cannot be fooled.

They know very well that, at this stage of near-total national economic collapse, what the country needs is food, fuel, jobs, a health service that works, respect for human rights, an independent judiciary and democracy. Just for starters.

And democracy is not simply about holding elections, which are rigged anyway. It is much, much more. And it begins with freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of the press. Elections are only one very small part of democracy. It’s all about tolerance and diversity.

When you look at the quality of the Senators who have been sworn in to that august body, it is plain for all to see that these are political has-beens who have nothing to contribute to the development of our country. Weve said it before, and well say it again: The Senate is a cushy warehouse for Mugabes cronies who are being pampered in return for their support for his succession plan.

The fact that the MDC rebels were trounced in all urban areas (traditionally MDC strongholds) other than Bulawayo shows that they failed to read the mood of the people. We commend Zimbabweans for taking a principled stand and showing the world that they know what they want. Despite the very real terror of authorised punishment, they stayed away from the polls, demonstrating that they had not been fooled at all by the convoluted rhetoric and machinations of Zanu (PF) and the MDC rebels.

We hope that these dissenting opposition members can read the writing on the wall and bow out gracefully. It would be folly for them to resort to desperate, perhaps underhand, methods to undermine the wishes of the people. It is quite clear that the people of Matabeleland as a whole are not behind them. In fact, it is patently obvious that the people of Zimbabwe as a whole are simply not interested in elections any more. And we dont blame them.

It would appear that MDC executive member, Gertrude Mtombeni, had her finger truly on the pulse when she said that the people of Matabeleland do not want Mugabe to continue to rule any part of Zimbabwe. They were not interested in a piecemeal vote just to keep Mugabe away from Matabeleland. Mtombeni was very emphatic that the people of Matabeleland do not subscribe to tribal politics and have a national vision for a free and truly democratic Zimbabwe.

National unity is the only way forward and we sincerely hope that those mischievously and destructively attempting to promote tribal divisions will be shown once and for all that Zimbabweans are done with tribalism.

In this regard we condemn the weekend assault on MDC legislator Timothy Mabhawu who was hospitalised on Sunday after being attacked by a mob of youths loyal to Morgan Tsvangirai. We commend the party leadership for condemning the action by the unruly youths and urge them to take a very strong stand on this kind of intolerance.

We expect such thuggish and intolerant behaviour from Zanu (PF)  strong signals must be sent that it is totally unacceptable for any member of the opposition. What Zimbabwe needs perhaps more than anything today is political tolerance.

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