Â The brutality of the methods and tactics being employed has been extensively documented. The key elements include political violence, intimidation of opponents, displacement of voters, elimination and harassment of polling agents and party campaigners, and arbitrary arrests and incarceration of political leaders. There is electoral cleansing taking place in Zimbabwe. Opposition activists, members of civic society and ordinary citizens have bourne the terrible brunt of this brutality.
After winning the run-off, Mugabe will not only control the Presidency, but the Senate as well. The two MDC formations working together hold the majority in the House of Assembly with 109 seats versus 97 belonging to ZANU (PF), which is now the new opposition. In the Senate, the combined MDC strength is equal to that of ZANU (PF) at 30 seats each. Hence, of the total 270 elected seats in both the House of Assembly and Senate, the two MDC formations have a 12 seat majority over ZANU (PF). In this regard, they hold claim to the moral authority of representing the will of the people.
However, in addition to the 60 elected Senators, the Zimbabwean constitution gives the person elected as President the power to appoint up to 33 members of the Senate: 10 Provincial Governors, 18 Chiefs, and 5 extra Senators. It is clear therefore that the balance of power in the combined Parliamentary institution consisting of the Senate and the House of Assembly depends on who is elected as President. If Mugabe wins, ZANU (PF) will overturn MDC’s elected majority. In addition to controlling the Presidency, ZANU (PF) will effectively control the Senate with 63 legislators against the combined MDC strength of 30. The ZANU (PF) majority of 33 in the Senate will wipe out the MDC’s majority of 12 in the House of Assembly.
From this position of strength, ZANU (PF) and Mugabe will then want to engage the opposition as weak junior partners, even though the MDC collectively enjoys majority support of the electorate. They will not negotiate now, before the run-off, because they are in a much weaker position. They lost their parliamentary majority and Mugabe came second in the 29th March 2008 harmonized elections. The bargaining power obtained from winning the run-off is so critical to them. With this victory, they might even dangle a Mugabe departure, where his successor from ZANU (PF) is elected national President by a joint sitting of the House of Assembly and Senate in which they will have a majority of 21. The Mugabe exit will be meant to pacify those in the international community who view Mugabe as the symbol and personification of the Zimbabwean crisis.
But, when all is said and done, Zimbabweans shall be masters of their own destiny. We cannot outsource the management of our public affairs to foreigners. We must close ranks in this darkest hour. The pursuit of a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe requires the involvement and commitment of every citizen. The starting point is working together to ensure that the outcome of the upcoming election is accepted by all Zimbabweans, both winners and losers. Clarity about the meaning of, and the response options to, a stolen election is imperative. History will never absolve us if we equivocate and prevaricate. The outside world can only help us help ourselves.
BY ARTHUR G.O. MUTAMBARA
HARARE - Robert Mugabe's political strategy in Zimbabwe is very clear. He wants to win the presidential run-off on Friday by any means necessary, and at any cost.