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Mnangagwa's 'No fighting!' will not end culture of vote rigging and violence

17 Jan 2018 at 19:50hrs | Views
One is getting the impression that President Mnangagwa thinks that he does not need to do anything concrete to ensure free, fair and credible elections as long as he is talking or twittering about the subject.

"When we go to the elections you should not fight. When people support their parties it's their choice. We should work for the people and not be selfish," twittered President Mnangagwa.

"There should be justice and national reconciliation because we cannot progress when communities are in conflict. God bless Zimbabwe."

Worse still, he is not going to end Zimbabwe's scourge of political violence by deliberately misrepresenting the problem as a fight between comparable parties. Zimbabwe's political violence is a one-sided affair and, worse still, in which even those with the statutory duty to interfere fear to trade!

2008 Operation "Mavhotera papi!" (Whom did you vote for!), which has become the bench mark of what Zanu PF will do to retain power; was about war veterans, Zanu PF thugs, deplored Soldiers, Police and CIO personnel backed and directed by the Joint Operation Command Junta harassing, beating, raping and even killing people to force the nation to vote for Mugabe. For with any knowledge what really happened, much less someone like President Mnangagwa, who was the one directing the Junta's operations, to talk of people must stop "fighting" is an insult.

This was not a fight in which all those involved could share the blame for provoking the incident, had an equal chance of hitting back, etc., etc. Here was the case in which the regime has mobilised its thugs to go and punish the people because they had dared vote for someone else. The people were victims in every sense of the word in that the situation was imposed on them and they were on the business end of the whip!

What did President Mnangagwa wanted the people who were being beaten, raped or murdered to do? The only other thing the victims could do was to report the crime to the relevant authorities such as the Police. Over 500 people were murdered in 2008, for example, and yet only a tiny number of the thugs have been arrested. Zanu PF thugs have become the "untouchable", a law unto themselves.

President Mnangagwa knows that the only effective way to stop Zimbabwe's culture of political violence is for the country to implement the democratic reforms necessary to free ZEC, the Police, etc. to investigate, charge and punish all those responsible for political violence.

By pretending the political violence is caused by unruly members of Zanu PF and the opposition alike and the tussles are of no more consequence than dogs barking in the night; President Mnangagwa is trivialising the problem of political violence. He has twittered that the unruly elements across the political divide must stop fighting is enough; much the same way the dog owner will tell it to stop barking. Are we to believe after the twitter all the fighting will stop, there will be no need for democratic reforms to restore the Police's confidence to investigate politically motivated Zanu PF crimes, etc. and we will live happily ever after.

Right now, President Mnangagwa is in the middle of a tour of all SADC countries; he is trying to convince the regional leaders that Zimbabwe can and will hold free, fair and credible elections without implemented. The leaders know all about Zimbabwe's 2008 bench mark election violence and it was them, SADC leaders, who formulated the democratic reforms and ask the GNU in Harare to implemented them.

SADC leaders were very disappointed that not even one reform was implemented in five years of the GNU. They wanted Zimbabwe's 2013 elections to be postponed to allow time for the reforms to be implemented. President Mugabe refused and even threatened to withdraw from the regional grouping. The elections that followed were not free and fair as the regional leaders had rightly predicted. It was poetic justice that Mugabe himself has since become the victim of the country's political lawlessness and thuggery; he forced to resign in last November's military coup!

Of course, SADC leaders still want Zimbabwe to implement the democratic reforms before holding the elections, more so now given the coup, as the only way to guarantee free and fair elections. SADC leaders must therefore be annoyed by President Mnangagwa's pathetic attempts to wriggle out of holding elections without implementing the reforms first particularly when it has been Mnangagwa himself who had played the key role in rigging past elections and in the November coup!

The wanton violence of 2008 was a very serious matter and when people like Retired Lt General Engelbert Rugeje, Zanu PF's National Political Commissar no less, threaten to bring back the violence, as he did last week, people are bound to sit up and listen. The people know it only too well that Zanu PF leaders pay lip service to such matters as free and fair elections particularly when do nothing concrete about it.

Indeed, President Mnangagwa has continued to pursue the same vote rigging programme he inherited from Mugabe. Last week handed over the first 52 new trucks to Chiefs, Mugabe had promised to give away, a blatant bribe to that Mugabe has often used to get traditional leaders, who are supposed to be apolitical, to frog march povo to attend Zanu PF rallies and then to vote for the party.

President Mnangagwa's twitters calling for people to stop fighting will not deliver free and fair elections because those doing the beating are above the law. SADC leaders will have no choice but to condemn the elections as a farce and save Zimbabwe from further political turmoil and economic hardship.

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