Dubious electoral game plan

The song and dance displayed by the former ruling party at the end of last year regarding the need for elections as soon as possible is testimony that all is not well in that political club. It is abundantly clear to most of us that the party is quickly realising that even Robert Mugabe will not live forever; he is not invincible.

John Makumbe
John Makumbe

There seems to be increased understanding that no political miracle can be conjured up to endow him with elements of his former glory and electoral clout. This is happening at the time when the former liberation party is evidently incapable of fielding an alternative candidate to face off with the popular trade unionist, Morgan Tsvangirai.

Desperate to remain in power, Zanu (PF) has devised a dubious game plan which needs to be realised both before and after the holding of the next elections. The following are some of the aspects of that game plan.

Recent illegal publication of the first four chapters of the draft constitution by The Herald were aimed at derailing the process of creating a foundation law for this country. It is obvious that the published chapters were leaked to the paper by elements within the party. It is well known that they would rather go for elections under the current much-amended Lancaster House Constitution than risk a massive humiliation by the MDC-T under a democratic constitution.

The Copac process must therefore be shot down and the nation should be forced to go to the polls under similar conditions to those obtaining in 2008. Some of us know that in 2008 Zanu (PF) did not win all the parliamentary seats that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said they did. At best they won only a third of those seats; the rest were stolen from the MDC-T. The ZEC was instrumental in this theft. This is unlikely to happen under the new ZEC chaired by Justice Mutambanengwe.

The second aspect of the game plan is to make the government of national unity so dysfunctional that all three parties will view the holding of new elections as the best way forward. This will not require much effort on the part of Mugabe’s party. In fact, threats of collective job action by civil servants during the first half of this year will provide appropriate ammunition for them to demand that elections be held to enable the winning political party to effectively run the affairs of the nation. A close examination of the civil servants’ demands will reveal that it is those who stand to benefit from the status quo who are making the most noise. Admittedly, the salaries of civil servants are pitifully low.

What is urgently needed at this point in time is for the GNU to draw up a competent strategy of ensuring that civil servants are better remunerated, even if it means selling some state-owned assets. If the salaries remain at the current level, civil servants will be vulnerable to abuse by Mugabe and Zanu (PF) should an election be held soon.

The two MDCs must demonstrate to civil servants that they would like to do everything in their power to improve on state employees’ terms and conditions of work. As we know, proceeds from the Marange diamonds are not all being channelled into state coffers. They however ask the question: What is the MDC doing to rectify this unhealthy situation? Precious little it would appear.

But I digress; another aspect of the plan is to jump ship prematurely, forcing the nation to hold elections. Both MDCs are likely re boycott such a contest and SADC will need to come in and broker yet another arrangement, call it GPA2 and GNU2. This will ensure that the nation remains at a standstill. This will not bother Mugabe and Zanu (PF) as long as they remain in power.

Fortunately, not everyone in Mugabe’s party is in favour of early elections. Those in Parliament know their chances of retaining their seats are slim. They would rather elections are held in 2013 so that they can continue to enjoy the small benefits of being legislators.

The final aspect is for Zanu (PF) to strenuously resist any further institutional reforms since these are viewed as tantamount to transferring more political power to the MDC. SADC and the MDCs have insisted that institutional reforms will need to be undertaken prior to the holding of the elections. Zanu (PF)’s reluctance to comply with this requirement is likely to lead to a stalemate and the derailment of the transition to democracy.

Will this game plan work for Zanu (PF)? My opinion is that it will only work if the MDC and the people continue to sit and stare like brain-damaged zombies while the nation is being pillaged by kleptomaniacs.

The MDC formations need to persistently agitate for positive changes in accordance with the substance and the spirit of the GPA. Pressure must continue to mount against Mugabe and his decaying political party until they give more ground and implement the agreed reforms.

Mobilisation of the people should be intensified by all political formations right up to the time of elections. If Zanu (PF) drags itself out of Copac the constitution-making process must proceed without that party.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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