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A Squirrel Wedding Party, As the MDC's Internal Independent Electoral Commission(IIEC) Makes No Show?

03 May 2019 at 15:20hrs | Views
The originally proposed Internal Independent Electoral Commission(IIEC) by the Movement for Democratic Change(MDC), as it geared itself  to hold its electoral congresses in 2019 had been hailed as a possible major breakthrough in the MDC and Zimbabwe politics at large. The elective congresses are held from branch to national level and are the vehicle for leadership renewal at all levels of the party. To date, however, all  branches, wards and districts have successfully held their elective congresses with no visible independent electoral commission, provoking some loud murmurs and thin cries reminiscent of noises in an imaginary squirrel wedding party held somewhere in a narrow chimney in a desolate setting. Such an unholy wedding features, among others, high-pitched, bird-like chirping noises, squakes and  bark-like grunts, coupled with the exposition of thin sharp-pointed teeth, in readiness for an imminent bite. This goes with the expectation of witnessing some guests running away with the wedding cake to the hardly accessible ends of the chimney top while tortoises wallow in hunger as the affair can only excite but not assuage their hunger.

In that regard, it is opined that setting up a deliberate and truly independent internal electoral commission could have been handy in order to avoid incessantly disputed electoral outcomes which could inevitably lead to a dismal show in 2023 due to resultant divisions. It is undeniable that the MDC should do everything possible to meet and arouse the satisfaction of its diehard members and supporters. The Masvingo and Bulawayo debacles are a thorn in the flesh, partly due to the alleged, unprocedural, handling of the provincial elections where others are said to have been arm-twisted leading to thin, piercing cries and roughly-stretched tail hairs that can still be heard and imagined in the hazy distance.  

The idea of an Internal Independent Electoral Commission in the MDC's 5th Congress  has been arguably viewed as a great and positive initiative in several aspects, if it were implemented. However, there has not been tangible  evidence of its existence so far as the party's provincial Congresses  have closed amid some alleged electoral irregularities. The South Africa province was the last to be held on the 27th of April 2019, cementing President Chamisa's chances of running away uncontested, to the excitement of those who feared he could lose if contested.

 The possibility of an independent electoral commission for the national Congress to be held in Gweru later this month remains an exhilarating fountain of hope for free, fair and credible internal electoral procedures. Real and sustainable democracy hinges on truly independent electoral commissions at both party and government level, among other aspects. In Zimbabwe, the brazen lack of independence by ZEC and internal electoral commissions at party level has resulted in perennially disputed elections. At this stage, the MDC can ill-afford that.  Unequivocally, the nation yearns for a selflessly democratic and all-inclusive and fairly balanced approach in terms of electoral procedures that could usher in able and deserving leaders to relevant leadership positions. The bad precedence set by ZEC calls for a plausible alternative both at party and national government level. The MDC is expected to be the torch bearer in that regard. Any crab-like walk in the presence of your children, relatives, visitors and or noisy neighbours, is embarrassing our elders say. However, an independent electoral commission has its merits and demerits that antagonize each other. This, therefore, implies that a reputable balanced-scale approach could smoothly win the day in favour of democracy.

The merits of an Internal Independent Electoral Commission

At the outset, it can be noted that the recent encouragement of debate by the party on this subject is tremendously plausible, to say the least. It unequivocally charts the democratic party position via the popular bottom-up approach to the politics of MDC and that of Zimbabwe. The internal independent electoral commission may offer a myriad of benefits that are in tandem with democratic principles as espoused by the contemporary modernization ideology which the party subscribes to. Notably, in a party or country that is founded on true democracy and civilized political contestation, NO citizen should be unduly barred from legally competing for any political office. In that regard, the need for an independent electoral commission, even at party level, cannot be overemphasized, especially as the MDC goes to its elective Congress  which is pencilled for the 24th to the 26th of May 2019 in the Midlands city of Gweru.

In a positive sense the use of an Internal Independent Electoral Commission could portray the true and positive image of the MDC as opposed to, say, ZANU PF. Further, this could send a strong signal that the party has not diverted from its founding principles as has been alleged by its adversaries and other notable scholars and ordinary Zimbabweans.

 More so, this would imply that when the party wins national elections it would ably establish a professional and unbiased independent electoral commission stemming from its internal independent electoral procedures. Such an approach could arouse overwhelming appeal in the electorate, thereby enhancing the party's credibility among its rank and file and, among the generality of the citizenry. This inviting approach could see millions registering to overwhelmingly vote for the MDC, come 2023.

The independent electoral commission could also offer the golden alternative which the nation has been wailing for since time immemorial. ZANU PF has failed the country through partisan electoral procedures. It is therefore inescapable that the MDC shuns the ZANU PF rail-road. For  instance, ZANU PF is well-known for dubious candidate endorsements that occur way before any elections. They have already shamelessly endorsed the clueless and hugely  incompetent ED for 2023. In the same vein, Mugabe was perennially claiming to have been endorsed by certain factions of his party through his philosophy of dictatorial Mugabeism.  Naturally, any party that could embrace such an authoritarian approach, would be doomed, to say the least. Unavoidably, the MDC should provide that much-needed democratic alternative.

Through the setting up of an internal independent commission, the MDC could intelligently harness the potential to appeal to the difficult-to-charm regional and continental blocks(SADC, AU, etc). These countries could also pluck a leaf from the would be exemplary MDC. It is arguably an open secret that Africa and the generality of the Global South are starved of such democratic pursuits. Both the ruling and opposition political parties would benefit from this invaluable approach, if the party of excellence truly adopts it.

The independent commission could also enable the party to fully harvest from its overflowing reservoir of talent and expertise in a balanced and inclusive manner. This could be achieved only if the politics of exclusion is curbed.

More so, free and transparent debate, encouraged by an independent commission, would enable divergent views which are essential for democratic growth and development in general. Conversely, the recent branch, ward and district congresses have allegedly starved of that.

In the same vein, through an independent electoral commission, the MDC would conform to international democratic standards and consequently appeal to the international community. International organizations and states have always demonstrated how objective they are in forging partnerships. They do not buy into lip-service. Therefore, anything short of transparent democratic procedures could sadly qualify in classifying the MDC in the same league with ZANU PF, and by implication, an enemy of the civilized world. Predictably, no one would love that except the junta grocery-club.

Logically, the call for the establishment of a truly independent, effective and efficient internal electoral commission is both inescapable and irresistible for true democrats and development minded individuals and groups.

The demerits of an Internal Independent Electoral Commission

Such a commission could possibly be a threat to the status quo as it could open up broad-based contestation. Zimbabweans seem to have fast grown allergic to democratic contestation. If not properly handled, however, the independent electoral procedures  could result in bad blood between contestants, thereby weakening the party. Another threat could be the possibility of infiltration of the proposed commission by ZANU PF agents, resultantly destabilizing the party.

Yet the huge elephant in house could also be the fact that funding the commission could be  a costly exercise. The MDC is self-funded and could hardly afford to pay for such a commission.

Finally, another visible set-back could be the reality that Zimbabwe is too polarized to have politically stable, fair and unbiased individuals to constitute such an ideal independent commission. Corruption, as cancerous as it is, could lead to some officials being bought to ensure that the Queen Bees usurp all the power available.

Ultimately, it is noteworthy that the aims and fundamental principles of the party should rail it in the appropriate direction which best meets its democratic tenets, despite any circumstances whatsoever. Pursuant to that, it is imperative for the party to uphold the everlasting need to respect the non-negotiable democratic principles which the birthing of the party in 1999 was premised on. Sadly, both internal and external electoral democracy have remained elusive in Zimbabwe, and of late, in the MDC. The method of hand- raising or homemade ballot papers does not hit the ideal democracy bar. Not even an inch!  Therefore, a professionally constituted internal independent electoral commission for the MDC would send an unequivocal message of "walking the talk" and thereby earn the party a renewed and enhanced wealth of credibility and interest. In that regard, the need to jealously guard against infiltration should never shift the pendulum away from democracy. As the party is on cruising mode towards its watershed electoral congress, the risk of hazardous splits is high. The penicillin injection for that is a truly free, fair and credible internal election devoid of any electoral diarrhoea and nausea. Anything other than that will see potential voters hold their nose and scurry for cover in a bid for safety from the pungent smell.

If your kinsman gives you friendly advice, do not throw it away without analysis, our elders say. Remember, after the squirrel wedding party, one will pick the chairs, litter, plates, cups and the empty beer cans. Even the bride may elope with her dead drunk rival suitor who attended the wedding ostensibly as a brother from another mother!

Those who can, let them hear!

Nhlanhla Moses writes in his capacity as an educationist and graduate of Community Development.
+27733862303 nhlanhlamoses@gmail.com

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Source - Nhlanhla Moses
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