Looting, patronage likely to increase

Zimbabwe’s elections have come and gone. We all know the results and most will agree that they yielded more than a few surprises - within both parties. Something is just not right and all the analysts worth their salt are struggling to come to terms with what really happened. Few are discussing the consequences.

Clearly the election was over-rigged, creating skews where they should never exist, but some will suggest that the losing side were really caught on the back foot by a cunning, methodical and experienced old fox.

Political suicide

The sham is not so much the fact that the winning party usurped the vote, but rather that a now grumbling opposition is found so badly wanting. They were outmanoeuvred or outclassed in more ways than one. Principally, it was abundantly clear to the wider audience that supposed reforms were needed before any fair election could ever take place.

To venture into an election without these reforms was political suicide, and they were warned. The now ruling party had absolute control over the electoral process. This provided the necessarily biased infrastructure needed to manipulate to their heart’s content – from voter registration, through to organisation and the count.

The platform had thus been set for biased maladministration. It ensured that those contesting were denied sight of the voter’s roll. Voter registration and roll manipulation are considered the core of the vote scam and no bias could be determined before voting began.

Both disenfranchisement and false enfranchisement (duplicated, deceased and centenarian voters) saw to it that the opposing parties could never achieve an outright majority save for securing a few party strongholds. Voter registration in rural areas amounted to 99.97 percent of eligible voters (compared with 2012 national census figures).

Sweet victory

The campaign saw contesting parties denied access to national media and petty attempts to prevent opposition rallies being held. Thuggery was absent. It was going to be a peaceful election, but while the thugs were reined in, the fraudsters were released with a vengeance.

Some say the MDC formations did not smell the rat, yet everyone was pointing to where it lay festering. Instead they were quaffing the sweet fragrance of victory. Never underestimate the enemy in African politics.

On the day, many legitimate voters were denied the vote – mostly in MDC urban strongholds. There was a heavy and unprecedented incidence of assisted voting, for alleged illiterates in Africa’s most literate nation. And then there was the bussing – the movement of youths in large numbers to vote in several locations; false voter registration and outright denial of results being broadcast from individual polling stations, lest this exposed the eventual swindle.

Apart from a few party die-hards, everyone is saying that the vote was rigged… the kleptocracy has successfully enforced its will upon the people. Those who believe otherwise are rather slow on the uptake. Even Zanu (PF) are worried that perhaps it was over-rigged by all the telltale signs now being exposed!

Did they really expect to win in the territory of the Gukurahundi massacres? They did. The winning party announced very early in its campaign that they would achieve as much as 90 percent of the poll with some degree of confidence. Did they know something then that bolstered their confidence?

90% confident

Early post-election whimpers for a regime of passive resistance were just not going to hold water. Those people who would perhaps care were disoriented and shocked with the poll outcome. A sense of being let down by their own permeated and suddenly the knives were being drawn, not for the wicked kleptocrats, but for those who led them to defeat.

There is a to-and-fro of opinion as to whether the MDC-T should take up their seats. It is a case of condemning the election, yet taking up the resultant parliamentary seats. Not many among the party faithful are sticking their heads above the parapet just yet… so just how does one expect the people, the man in the street, to cast the first stone of passive resistance? Politicians seem to be leading from the rear here and clearly they have not strategized to the optimum. The storm troops are waiting for any resistance.

While election observer parties from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community say the election was free and fair, the non-partisan Zimbabwe Election Support Network is exposing the poll for what it really was. It is perhaps a foregone conclusion that the submissions to the Constitutional Court will fail.

What next?

Thus the issue for many is not whether opposition will upset the apple cart through the Constitutional Court; whether the AU and SADC yield to the reality of it all and call for a new round; or perhaps what happens within the losing party’s senior ranks; but rather how the winning party is going to measure up to its election manifesto. More critically for some is the scale by which it handles the selective xenophobia, resource nationalisation and outright racism by its far right.

The party now in power has a track record for destruction, self-enrichment and gross patronage of the ‘chefs’. The markets responded negatively within hours of the results. There was even a run on the banks. The prognosis is not good.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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