The folly of rushing to elections without fundamental reforms

“An entrenched political regime can never be transformative in nature but commonly seeks to retain the advantage of power at all costs.”

Zimbabwe-by-elections1History has shown us that a majority can indeed get things fantastically wrong. Going for elections without any fundamental political and economic reforms is mass suicide. Some of us will therefore never cower when our ideas are against the grain because it has been proven before that a few men can indeed start a revolution.

It has certainly been a busy week for me as I have repeated so many times to citizens out there that we dare not project the recent Norton elections where Themba Mliswa won as an independent into 2018 because the conditions pertaining were unique and cannot projected forward especially without fundamental political and economic reforms.

A good number seem to misunderstand the proposed National Transitional Authority (NTA) for the wrong reasons and I figure that it is because first, they do not have the full information on what is being proposed and why. Second some feel that it is being imposed by an elite with vested interest to get back into politics through the back door. Third they are projecting the past failures of the GNU into the future assuming that an NTA will bring the same problems which led the non-implementation of fundamental reforms as required by the constitution. Finally some think that numbers alone will remove ZANU (PF) and that those promoting the NTA do not have the numbers and want to therefore impose themselves onto the electorate. That is incorrect.

Sadly all the above reasons are not necessarily true and ignore the reality that since 1980 Zimbabwe has had 12 elections which have not produced any different results. Going into another election without fundamental political and economic reforms is likely to produce the same results as the last 12. That should be common sense.

It is clear to everyone that ZANU(PF) fear fundamental reforms because that will make them impotent and irrelevant in 2018 given their performance to date, the widespread corruption and their evident inability to turn the economy around. On that there is no argument. So let us not waste our time expecting them to expedite reforms to our benefit. In fact entrenched political regimes are hardly transformational in their leadership style, they want to keep power at all cost. We have already witnessed their resistance to change which I wager will grow louder and more violent as 2018 approaches.

So as a country, we actually have very limited options in creating the Zimbabwe we want and we therefore have to be creative. For me the NTA remains a misunderstood opportunity that seeks to fundamentally change our political architecture without the need to go to war as did our struggle heroes when Ian Smith refused to implement political reforms.

The extent of the rot within our political system needs clinical surgery before we can even hope for a level playing field. Numbers alone will not remove fear, patronage and bias within all our institutions which are burdened by entrenched ZANU (PF) interests. We need much more than numbers because the regime is very clever and creative as we have experienced before.

Added to this is the fact that the implementation of comprehensive reforms will certainly take more than 18 months meaning that it is most likely that we will go to elections without them. In 2013 Zimbabweans in their millions queued up to vote the new constitution and as long as it has not been implemented in full we cannot then just ignore that and go to elections.

I do not know the agenda of those opposition political parties who think elections will work without reforms. We have been here before and we seem not to be learning from history.

We need a negotiated settlement I have no doubt about that. We need to address the issues underlying ZANU (PF)’s of resistance to change.

Zimbabwe needs a clean break from the past presided over by citizens and the NTA presides such opportunity. My greatest fear is that if we do nothing about it as citizens, it is most likely that politicians will once more cut a deal amongst themselves and proceed simply because Zimbabwe is in crisis and needs an urgent political solution.

I am going to keep this article until 2018 and I am almost certain those gunning for elections without reforms will be regretting they never listened.

Let those who have ears hear!

Vince Musewe is an economist and author. He is also Secretary for Finance and Economic Affairs for PDP. You may contact him on [email protected]

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