Whose election is it anyway?

President Robert Mugabe and a cabal of security chiefs want to force the country to go to an election in the first quarter of next year, but who really wants to go to the polls?

Election posters in Harare in 2008.
Election posters in Harare in 2008.

Were it not for South African President Jacob Zuma and SADC, Mugabe and this cabal would have forced an election on us this year. They have tried everything that they can to ensure that the inclusive government collapses so that Mugabe can call a snap election. But they have not bothered to tell the nation how such an election is in the national interest and how it will benefit ordinary Zimbabweans.

Mugabe has told his supporters that he wants an early election because the inclusive government is not working. Frankly that is a bunch of baloney. It is akin to a spouse lying, cheating and not respecting a marriage and then rushing to the courts to file for divorce on the grounds that the marriage is not working! The inclusive government is not working because Mugabe and his party do not want it to work. If they really wanted it to work, why would they take every opportunity to work against it?

Selfish reasons

Mugabe and his few henchmen want an election for selfish personal reasons. Mugabe says that because of his advanced age, time is running out. He wants an early election that he hopes to win so that he will die in office. Otherwise what else would motivate an 88-year-old man to contest an election?

What does he hope to deliver to Zimbabweans now that he has not been able to deliver in the 31 years that he has been in power? The argument that if he goes then his party will collapse is nonsensically selfish. Zimbabwean citizens do not all belong to Zanu (PF), and they care less what happens in that political party because it is a private matter.

I have noticed that within Zanu (PF) those making the loudest noise about an election are those who do not occupy positions in the inclusive government. The likes of Jonathan Moyo and Christopher Mutsvangwa are angling for ministerial positions and they hope to ingratiate themselves to Mugabe by shamelessly grovelling about elections.

Moyo thinks that his swashbuckling and irresponsible confrontational attitude towards Zuma and his facilitation team has endeared him to Mugabe and that he will get either the Foreign Affairs ministerial portfolio or he will be returned to the Information Ministry.

Moyo, an embarrassment

What Moyo does not seem to realize is that his no-prisoners-taken approach to politics has embarrassed well-meaning members of Zanu (PF) who feel that he is creating more enemies for the party at a time when it should be making friends. At any rate the Wikileaks cables have exposed him as a ‘flip-flopper’ and ‘useful messenger’ of US interests in Zimbabwe. This has caused some ructions among those in the party who have always questioned Moyo’s loyalty.

The securocrats have never accepted the GNU since its consummation. They never wanted Morgan Tsvangirai anywhere near the levers of state power and that explains why they turned the 2008 presidential election run-off into a bloodbath. They have not made a secret of their desire to see Zanu (PF) governing alone. Personal economic interests drive their attitudes. They see the MDC presence in the government as a threat to their interests as it has reduced opportunities for rent-seeking and lucrative government tenders. They also fear that the more Mugabe interacts with Tsvangirai, the less he will dislike him. The possibility of Tsvangirai and Mugabe striking a political deal that excludes them is too dreadful to contemplate for the securocrats.

Nothing has changed

Mugabe and his small cabal seem to have forgotten why the inclusive government was formed in the first place. This government was born out of a disputed electoral outcome. And that disputed outcome was a result of the political conditions prevailing at the time. Those conditions are still very much in place. I challenge anyone to tell me what has changed since 2008. Only a fool continues to do the same thing and expect different results. Zanu (PF) elements now want to pretend that the GNU is a burden to them when in actual fact it gave them a lifeline.

Frankly no one in this country except Mugabe and his small cabal wants an election. The business community has since cautioned against an early election, fearing that the modicum of economic stability they are enjoying will be wiped out. Barring Kasukuwere’s legalized asset stripping through the ill-conceived indigenization policy, which has become an avenue for crony capitalism, the inclusive government has created a relatively friendly environment for business to function, albeit not to full capacity.

Civil society has categorically stated its opposition to an early election. The conditions on the ground are not conducive for free and fair political competition. The infrastructure of violence is still very much intact. Rights activists and journalists continue to be targets of arbitrary arrests. As I am writing, three media rights activists from the Media Monitoring Project are in police custody for violating the Public Order and Security Act, that shameful relic of colonial repression. Zanu (PF) thugs are terrorizing innocent citizens in Mbare and other communities with impunity. The police continue to arrest the victims of violence instead of the perpetrators. The public media continues to exhibit partisan coverage of news as it only carries the Zanu (PF) voice.

The MDC is only mentioned when it is being lampooned and ridiculed. Attempts to open up the electronic media space have been hijacked as Zanu (PF)-linked companies have snapped up the two licenses on offer.

Majority opposed

Zanu (PF) members and supporters do not want an election. Mugabe’s MPs have not made a secret of their opposition to his call for elections next year. Most of them would rather see the end of their legislative terms in 2013 than be subjected to an electoral challenge. Moreover, a majority of them are opposed to Mugabe’s candidature. If Mugabe follows foolish counsel by the small cabal that wants elections for selfish personal interests, then he risks his MPs revolting against him. They will do another ‘Operation bhora mudondo’ as they did in 2008 when they urged their supporters to vote for a Zanu (PF) candidate in the parliamentary election, but have the liberty to make up their own minds on their choice of President.

Ordinary Zanu (PF) supporters do not want an election. They too have borne the brunt of poverty and deprivation under a Zanu (PF) government and they see the inclusive government as having given them some modicum of relief.

Only hoodlums and political pimps who benefit from opaque beer and cheap Chinese-made t-shirts would say they truly want an election.

Post published in: News

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