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It is erroneous to assume 2013 elections were free and fair - they were not

31 Aug 2017 at 16:39hrs | Views
"(MDC-T VP Thokozani) Khupe has been clear that she believes there is no need for a coalition in Matabeleland, but rather in the Mashonaland provinces, where MDC-T has performed badly in the past, although this is a terribly flawed argument," argued Nqaba Matshazi, in Bulawayo 24 Opinion.

"While it is true that MDC-T has performed well in Matabeleland with Khupe as the de facto regional leader, the sad reality is that the party was on the decline, losing Matabeleland South and half of Matabeleland North seats to Zanu PF in the last election."

Matshazi's assessment premised on the basic assumption that the July 2013 elections were free, fair and credible. They were not!

There is overwhelming evidence to prove that Zanu PF has been rigging elections and the 2008 elections provides the best documented case. Everyone except Mugabe and his cronies accepts as a historic fact that Zimbabwe's 2008 elections were not free and fair. Even SADC and the AU election observer teams, notorious for giving a thumbs-up to dodgy elections, could not ignore the blatant vote rigging and wanton violence in that year's elections.

By refusing to accept the 2008 elections result as legitimate, the international community also refused to recognise Mugabe's claim as the legitimate president of Zimbabwe. To restore political legitimacy, SADC forced Mugabe to sign the 2008 Global Political Agreement agreeing to implement a raft of democratic reforms, designed to stop all manner of vote rigging in the country's future elections, and agreeing to the formation of a Government of National Unity (GNU) which was tasked to implement the reforms.

It is a historic but also tragic fact that at the end of the five years of GNU, not even one democratic reforms had been implemented. SADC leaders realised this and hence the reason why they wanted the 2013 elections postponed so reforms could be implemented first.

"Of course, they (elections) can be postponed," Dr Ibbo Mandaza explained to Violet Gonda in a recent interview. "In 2013 the Maputo Summit, in June 2013, before the elections, the Maputo Summit was all about having the elections postponed – the SADC summit. I went there.

"I was there at the Summit and Mugabe pretended to agree to a postponement of the elections. If you recall, the postponement was based on the need to reform at least electoral laws.

"And after that Summit, Morgan Tsvangirai, Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube, all of them were called to a separate meeting by the Heads of State of SADC in the absence of Mugabe, that same evening. And they were told; I was sitting there outside the room with Mac Maharaj; they were told ‘if you go into elections next month, you are going to lose; the elections are done'.

"And we came back on a Sunday and that Monday we had a SAPES Policy Dialogue to discuss the Summit and lo and behold, whilst we were discussing it, the court papers arrived calling the MDC to court to show reason why the elections should be postponed. Mugabe had done a volte-face against the decision of the Summit. Mugabe went on TV and threatened to leave SADC – ‘who is SADC, we can leave SADC anyway'."

The need for free, fair and credible elections was paramount to Zimbabwe's political and economic well-being and to give in because Mugabe threatened to take Zimbabwe out of SADC was absurd.

With no reforms in place, it was clear the July 2013 elections would not be free, fair and credible and that is exactly what happened. The elections were marred by such glaring irregularity as the failure to release a verifiable voters' roll before the elections, a legal requirement, and afterwards, following many lawful requests. We all saw on YouTube many hooded Zanu PF youths who were bussed around polling station to cast multiple vote; etc.

There is no doubt that Zimbabwe's July 2013 elections were not free, fair and credible.

Therefore, Matshazi's basic assumption that the 2013 elections were free and fair is erroneous and so too is the conclusion that Zanu PF electoral victories is proof of the party's popularity with the electorate. If elections are rigged then the electorate have, per se, been taken out of the equation.

The line of inquiry we should be pursuing here is why did Morgan Tsvangirai and friends disregard SADC's warning not to contest the 2013 elections with no reforms?

The reason why MDC contesting flawed 2013 elections can traced back to their failure to implement the democratic reforms during the GNU. It was incumbent on the MDC leaders, not Mugabe and his Zanu PF cronies, to implement the reforms and dismantle the dictatorship. It was Mugabe who had created the dictatorship and needed it to retain his iron grip on power; he clearly did not want the system reformed.

Tsvangirai and his MDC friends failed to get even one reform implemented in five years because Mugabe bribed them with the trapping of high office and, in return, they kicked reforms into the tall grass.

MDC leaders "were busy enjoying themselves when they were in the GNU, they forgot why they were there," remarked one SADC leader in sheer exasperation soon after Zanu PF rigged the July 2013 elections.

MDC leaders knew that Zanu PF was going to rig the July 2013 election, even without being told by SADC; they still contested the elections regardless because, by then, they had completely lost interest in fighting for free and fair elections and delivering democratic changes. All they were after then, was whatever scraps they could get from Mugabe's table. The tyrant offered a few gravy train seats to entice opposition candidates to contest the elections. And it was these scraps the opposition were after, as David Coltart, MDC-N Senator and Minister of Education in the GNU, admitted in his book.

"The worst aspect for me about the failure to agree a coalition was that both MDCs couldn't now do the obvious – withdraw from the elections," explained Senator Coltart.

"The electoral process was so flawed, so illegal, that the only logical step was to withdraw, which would compel SADC to hold Zanu PF to account. But such was the distrust between the MDC-T and MDC-N that neither could withdraw for fear that the other would remain in the elections, winning seats and giving the process credibility."

It was only after Zanu PF had rigged the 31st July 2013 leaving MDC with only a handful of gravy train seats that MDC leaders were finally forced to accept the seriousness of Zanu PF's vote rigging. All the MDC factions vowed not to contest any future elections until the reforms are implemented. "No reform, no elections!" they announced.

Not even one reform has been implemented since the rigged 2013 elections and so we can once again that Zanu PF will rig next year's elections.

Once again, Tsvangirai and his friends in the opposition camp know, with no reforms, Zanu PF will rig the elections. And yet, once again, they are all tripping over each other to contest the flawed elections, regardless. They have conveniently forgotten the rigged elections of July 2013 and they are once again going for those few gravy train seats Zanu PF gives away.

Ordinary Zimbabwean gained nothing from participating in the July 2013 rigged elections. They have paid the price by being landed with the corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF dictatorship for five years. By participating in these flawed elections, the people are playing a key role in giving the process the modicum of democratic credibility. The people will do the same again if they participate in any way in next year's elections!

The people of Zimbabwe must wake up to the political reality that Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends have stopped fighting for democratic change, free and fair elections, etc. a long, long time ago. They sold-out during the GNU hence the reason they failing to implement even one reform. They are now selling-out now by insisting in contesting next year's flawed elections for the sake of a few gravy train seats Zanu PF offers as a bribe!

They must stop following political leaders blindly like sheep to the slaughter. They should not allow themselves to be conned into participating in flawed elections on the basis the false hope that Zanu PF can rig the vote but, somehow, lose the elections. It is insane to do the same this over and over again, for 37 years + now, and hope for a different result!

If the people of Zimbabwe are serious about wanting free and fair elections, the pre-requisite for competent and accountable government and to ending the crippling economic meltdown; then they must demand the implementation of the democratic reforms before the elections.

The consequences of another rigged elections will be catastrophic for Zimbabwe. If the people of Zimbabwe bury their heads in the sand and participate in next year's flawed elections; it will be sheer folly and they will dearly pay for it. No one can say they were not warned!

Source - Wilbert Mukori
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