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'Boycotting 2018 is not an option,' says ZUNDE - not when it is the only option, which it is

27 Sep 2017 at 08:50hrs | Views
"Nhamo inenharo!" (There is no one more foolishly stubborn than a fool!) as one would say in Shona.

The question of whether Zimbabweans should continue to contest the Zanu PF managed elections was answered after the 2008 elections when the regime showed that its vote rigging powers had reached such nauseating heights, it was impossible to beat them. Mugabe was not just using a loaded dice, he was now using one with six on all six sides. SADC leaders recognised that and hence the reason why they have argued for the implementation of the democratic reforms before holding any further elections. It is therefore tedious that we should still have any Zimbabwean out there still calling for elections with no reforms!

 "ZUNDE calls on the people of Zimbabwe to mount a sustained mass public demonstration by registering and voting in numbers never seen before," argued Moses Chamboko, that party's Secretary General.

"ZUNDE calls on all opposition groups to unite in this campaign to inspire every eligible Zimbabwean to enrol and vote."

The long delayed, BVR voter registration exercise finally started two weeks ago and will end 15 January 2018, four months later. This is not enough time to register 7 million and produce a verifiable voters' roll. Worse still, there are not enough voter registration centres and the process is very slow, only 100 or less are registered per day. All this is to deliberately frustrate the opposition's voter mobilization drive. Chamboko does not deny the regime's dirty tactics are working but instead of finally accepting the futility of his efforts, he is asking people to redouble their efforts

"Boycotting is not an option. A boycott would simply give Mugabe and ZANU PF a free pass to continue in power for another five years. Even if significant numbers boycott the elections, given the multiplicity of opposition parties, some of them creations of ZANU PF, there are those who will participate anyway. They may even congratulate Mugabe for winning the election thereby giving legitimacy to a flawed process and results," argued Chamboko.

"Ideally, we would want electoral reform and transparency before going into another election but we have to accept the reality of Jonathan Moyo's often repeated assertion that Mugabe and ZANU PF are not going to reform themselves out of power. To them, a free and fair election is political suicide. We have to carry on regardless and achieve by force of numbers what we are unable to bring about by electoral reform."

We have all heard those empty arguments before and so, for the umpteenth time, we must present counter arguments. There are six points the likes of Chamboko have failed to understand:

1)    People like Chamboko and Dr Nkosana Moyo have talked about only 40% voted in the 2013 elections and argue the opposition will win if the mobilise the 60% who did not vote. This is a nonsense argument because it assumes the 60% did not bother to register as voters and/or vote. As we have seen above the regime has many ways of stopping people to register as voters, of denying registered voters the vote, of allowing its supporters to cast multiple votes, etc.

Zanu PF has been rigging vote, that is surely beyond disputing, and statics coming out of rigged elections are, of course, nonsensical because the figures do not relate to real but fictitious people.

2)    MDC contested the July 2013 elections, confident "MDC's mass support would overwhelm any vote rigging shenanigans by Zanu PF," as Tsvangirai later admitted. Wrong; whatever Winning In Rigged Elections (WIRE) strategies, as MDC now call them, had in 2013, they did not work.
Chamboko's voter mobilization drive and all the other WIRE strategies the opposition have come up with are not new and none will stop Zanu PF rigging the vote and winning the elections. None!

3)    It was not because Zanu PF would not reform itself out of office that not even one reform was implemented during the GNU. Yes, Mugabe was cunning enough to bribe Tsvangirai and company no forget about the reforms; but that is not the same thing. The reason why not even one reform was implemented in five years of the GNU because MDC leaders are breathtakingly corrupt and incompetent. The failure to acknowledge MDC's incompetence by MDC leaders themselves and Zimbabweans themselves has left the nation stuck in a rut; fighting for democratic change but using individuals with no clue what those changes are much less how to bring about the changes
Of course, it is naïve to expect Zanu PF to implement the reforms after the GNU this is exactly why SADC leaders wanted the reforms implemented during the GNU and, when that did not happen, wanted the 2013 elections postponed until the reforms were implemented. Now that 2013 election took place and Zanu PF is back in power, the solution is to boycott next year's elections.

4)    When SADC leaders proposed that MDC should boycotting the 2013 elections until reforms are implemented, of course, they knew many other opposition politicians would contest regardless how flawed and illegal the process happened to be. To even suggest  SADC leaders were not aware there will be many opposition opportunists willing to step in and contest is a reflection of Chamboko's own political naivety.

What mattered was that a few opposition parties saw the futility of contesting flawed elections and boycotted. The very fact that not even one opposition politician with the political stature to make a principled stand even on a matter of such grave importance only show the sorry state of Zimbabwe politics. Even in their darkest hour Sodom and Gomorrah names three or so good people; in our hour of great need, SADC leaders failed to get even one Zimbabwean politician of substance! Not one!

Having, even, a handful of honest Zimbabwean politicians making a principled stand of demanding reforms elections would have proven that it was not just SADC leaders who considered reforms important but Zimbabweans too. There is no doubt that SADC leaders would have declared the July 2013 elections a sham if they had had a few Zimbabweans behind them, after all they are the ones who had dismissed them as such even before the elections.

"If you go into elections next month, you are going to lose; the elections are done," SADC leaders warned Morgan Tsvangirai & co. in June 2013, according to Dr Ibbo Mandaza who attended the Maputo summit.

Mugabe had the choice to either postpone the elections or have the sham elections rejected either way this would have forced the revisiting of the reforms. To argue that Zanu PF would have ignored SADC's decision to recognise his 2013 victory is a nonsense because he faced the same situation in 2008 and that led to the GNU. Mugabe knows that not even he can defy the whole world.

5)    The opposition parties did not remove Zanu PF from office by contesting the flawed 2013 election, as we can see; all that has happened is postpone the decision to boycott elections. It was madness to contest the 2013 elections with no reforms it is even more so now that the rigged 2013 proved this to be the can. There is no excuse for Zimbabwe's opposition politicians in contesting next year's elections; none other than greed.

It is no secret that Zanu PF has been giving away a few gravy train seats to entice the opposition to contest the flawed elections. Small price for Zanu PF to pay for the political credibility the opposition give the flawed process.

6)    It is almost certain that this time SADC will dismiss Zimbabwe's next year election as a sham even if Tsvangirai and everyone in the opposition camp contest the flawed elections as happened in 2013. The one reason being that SADC leaders know Tsvangirai and his MDC friends are corrupt and incompetent and have lost all political credibility. The second reason is that SADC leaders now know the mess in Zimbabwe is threatening the development and stability of the whole region and allowing Mugabe to do as he please is no longer an option.

37 years of gross mismanagement and rampant corruption has left Zimbabwe in a real economic mess. Unemployment has soared to 90% and Zimbabweans are today the poorest in Africa. The country is tittering on the edge of political instability and another rigged election next year may push it over the edge. Zimbabwe's economic and political problems have affected its neighbours, especially SA and Botswana, whose have hosted many Zimbabweans economic and/or political refugees.

SADC leaders can help bring about meaningful democratic change in Zimbabwe by refusing to endorse another flawed and illegal election next year. Whoever, be it SADC or the UN, who steps in to help bring about democratic reforms in Zimbabwe, they will know nothing of substance will be achieved until the reforms designed to stop Zanu PF rigging elections are implemented.

"We must be determined and persistent. Each one must do whatever it takes to register to vote. It is better to be on that queue for hours than endure another five long years of ZANU PF misrule and madness," argued Chamboko.

Zimbabweans have risked life and limb for freedom and liberty before independence and since for democratic change but only to be betrayed by both Mugabe and Tsvangirai. Asking the people to make even greater personal sacrifices in this case has not brought about any political or economic change and benefits because it has all been a total waste. Tsvangirai and company had the golden opportunities to deliver the democratic changes the nation has been dying for, literally, but failed to deliver even one change. So, there is a crying need for the nation to replace the corrupt and incompetent opposition.

Second, Mugabe and Zanu PF will never be dislodged from power as long as they continue to exercise carte blanche dictatorial powers to blatantly rig the elections and wanton violence to impose their will. Boycotting the elections will force Zanu PF to accept reforms just as the regime was forced to during the GNU.

Boycotting the elections is a tacit acknowledgement that elections without reforms are a mockery of every democratic elections should be. Zanu PF vote rigging has reach new heights, Mugabe is playing with a dice with six on all six sides and it is madness to bet on him failing to throw a six, especially when it is the economy and human lives at stake. Boycotting such flawed and illegal elections is the only option on the table because to do anything else is to tacitly endorse the process and give it credibility.

The argument that we must contest the elections come what may, it absurd!

After 37 years of trying to win rigged elections it is madness to keep contesting flawed elections and hoping for it different result! Hard work alone is not enough, we must work smarter and that means accepting when something has failed and try something else.

By insisting on implementing the democratic reforms before elections we will guarantee for ourselves and posterity free, fair and credible elections. We will finally get rid of the Zanu PF dictatorship, they will never ever win free and fair election. And once implemented, the democratic reforms will open-up our political system to meaningful free flow of ideas, full public debate and democratic competition; forcing the corrupt and incompetent opposition politicians to up their game or they too will be booted off the political stage.

So, by implementing the reforms, we end the Zanu PF dictatorship and replace it will a health and functional democratic system of government and force the opposition to be competent or ship out. In my rural boy mentality, that is killing two birds with one stone and getting the stone back!

Source - Wilbert Mukori
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