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Banishing West election observers will not stop Zanu PF demise - must rig economic recovery too

03 Oct 2020 at 09:47hrs | Views
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his fellow coup plotters knew the world at large did not approve of the November 2017 military coup that toppled Mugabe. To earn himself some brownie points, Mnangagwa promised to hold free, fair and credible elections. And in addition, he would allow election observers and reporters from West, whom Mugabe  had barred, to cover the elections.

Mnangagwa did not keep his promise, the July 2018 elections were not free, fair and credible; he failed to implement even one token democratic reform.  The West election observers including the Commonwealth mission condemned the elections as a farce.

"The electoral commission lacked full independence and appeared to not always act in an impartial manner. The final results as announced by the Electoral Commission contained numerous errors and lacked adequate traceability, transparency and verifiability," stated the EU Election Mission final report.

"Many aspects of the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe failed to meet international standards."

The damning reports have left Mnangagwa smarting from a legitimacy problem; one his main political opponent, Nelson Chamisa has taken full advantage of. Mnangagwa is under increasing pressure to implement democratic reforms designed to take away Zanu PF's carte blanche power to rig elections.

If the next elections are held with no reforms implemented, the legitimacy problem will not go away. Indeed, given all the other problems of the worsening economic, the all but collapsed health and education service, etc. the legitimacy problem will only amplify all the other problems.

Zanu PF has no intention of implementing the reforms and so the party is left with only one way of dealing with the illegitimacy problem - making sure they are no observers to condemn the flawed and illegal elections.   

"I should congratulate Malawi, for the first time in our region, possibly on the continent, here is a country which has had the general elections without foreign observers, without the United Nations, African Union, SADC and almost all these civil society organisations observing elections," Mnangagwa addressing President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi. The latter is on a state visit to Zimbabwe.

"This makes us think whether it's still necessary in future for SADC countries to look for supervision from across oceans."

President Mnangagwa has reverted to the old Zanu PF argument that the West has condemned Zimbabwean elections as a farce and imposed the economic sanctions on country as punishment for party's land reform policy.

"These sanctions were a direct response by Britain and her allies to Zimbabwe's land reform programme in 1999/2000," he explained to his guest.

"We make no apologies for taking back our land and we are happy that the people have been reunited with their land."

This is an insult to every Zimbabwean out there because Zanu PF has never held free, fair and credible elections, starting with the 1980 elections. It is no secret that Zanu PF did not withdraw many of its Zanla operative to assembly points as agreed in the Lancaster House Agreement. The operatives' campaign message to the voters was that the civil war would continue, if Zanu PF lost the elections. And so the people voted to end the war.

Some people argued that the Zanu PF war threat was a bluff. No one has ever doubted Zanu PF's murderous intend since the party launched the 1983 to 1987 Gukurahundi massacre. The barbaric violence targeted PF Zapu leaders and supporters to either wipe out party or force the party to join Zanu PF. To stop further bloodshed, the late Dr Joshua Nkomo signed the Unity According paving the way for the imposing of the de facto one-party, Zanu PF, dictatorship that has ruled the country with an iron fist to this day.

Zanu PF's failure to hold free, fair and credible elections has everything to do with the establishment and retention of the country's one-party dictatorship. The 1999 Zanu PF land reform and the sanctions are smoke screens to hide the truth. How did the land reform or sanctions stop ZEC producing verified voters' roll, for example?

Besides everyone, including SADC and AU election observers known for endorsing Zimbabwe's flawed elections until then, condemned Zimbabwe's 2008 elections for the blatant cheating and wanton violence. What ax did SADC and AU have to grind with Zanu PF then?

Even if President Mnangagwa was to get his wish and banish all the western nations and organisations from observing Zimbabwe's elections. And all those who do observe the election rub stamp the flawed and illegal elections as free, fair and credible that will not change the reality on the ground - Zimbabwe will still be a pariah state ruled by corrupt, vote rigging tyrants.

As long as Zimbabwe remains a pariah state the country's economic meltdown will only get worse. Already unemployment has soared to dizzying heights of 90%; basic services like health care and education have all but completely collapsed; as of last year, 2019, 34% of the population were living in abject poverty; etc.; etc. The corona virus outbreak has made the situation even worse. The economic situation in Zimbabwe is unsustainable making the socially and politically unstable.

Mnangagwa will not need to rig the elections if the economic is booming. He can boot out the foreign election observers to rig legitimacy but, as Mugabe was forced to admit, his days in power are numbered as long as nothing is done to end the worsening economic meltdown.

Ultimately it is the long suffering Zimbabweans; not the election observers, honest or otherwise; who will decide who rules Zimbabwe. The worsening economic situation will force the people to demand change.

"It is the economy, stupid!" that is ending the Zanu PF dictatorship!

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