The will of the people?

In the absence of a proper voters’ roll and a credible international election observer, such as the Carter Institute, no one can honestly say with any degree of certainty whether last Wednesday’s election reflected the will of the Zimbabwean people. One thing is certain – the numbers simply do not add up.

And isn’t it strange that there have been no jubilant celebrations by the “winners”? It’s as though they can’t quite believe it themselves. The general mood across the nation is one of despondency. It would seem the will of the people has not triumphed at all.

What happened on July 31 was a demonstration of what can be done by a small group of people who have everything to lose and who have spent more than 30 years cementing their grip on power and wealth. It certainly was not a popularity contest. It certainly was not free, fair or credible.

Mercifully it was peaceful. Memories of the 2008 election – burnt and lacerated bodies, weeping girls and women who had been raped, swollen, bleeding feet and dead bodies – were fresh in the minds of many.

Intimidation played a huge role. In the weeks leading up to the election, and even as early as January when Mugabe first started agitating for elections to take place, The Zimbabwean and other independent media were inundated with reports from all over the country of threats by Zanu (PF) traditional leaders, youth militia, army and police officers of a repeat of the 2008 violence if the party and Mugabe did not win.

The Zanu (PF) “victory” must be considered in the light of the following: This is a country where 95% of the population is unemployed; an estimated 25% live and work in the diaspora to keep their relatives back home fed and at school; 15% are orphans (largely as a result of the AIDS pandemic). It is therefore pretty easy to buy people – and votes.

All those in the top echelons of the army, the police, the judiciary and the body responsible for elections are hand-picked, self-avowed Zanu (PF) loyalists – rewarded over the years via a well-orchestrated patronage system with land, farming implements, luxury vehicles, plasma TVs, diamonds and business opportunities.

The Registrar General’s office was used to disenfranchise young people mainly in the urban areas, and to overstate the number of old people in rural areas over 80. According to their own figures, they registered only 8% of those in the 18-30 age group and 220% of those in the over 80 age group.

The 2012 census established that there are 13 million Zimbabweans – three million of them resident outside the country. The RG’s office claimed that 6,2 million registered to vote. This is clearly impossible, given that at least two-thirds of the population are under 18.

The MDC and civil society have documented thousands of examples of impossible numbers. Even Jonathan Moyo does not believe the results.

Zanu (PF)’s victory is hollow. They have no coherent policy about how to revive our ailing economy and get the people of Zimbabwe back to work. Grabbing mines and companies from their rightful companies is not going to solve this problem – it will only make it worse.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga
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