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No.1 lesson Zanu PF learned from 2008 GNU - how to turn MDC into its vote rigging ally

10 Dec 2020 at 09:14hrs | Views
The 2008 Zimbabwe elections were a watershed moment in the country's political history. The elections and the 2008 to 2013 GNU that followed shook Zanu PF to the core and transformed the country's political landscape. Zanu PF's iron grip on power has never been more tenuous as it was during the GNU.

Still it was Zanu PF that was best able to read the new landscape, to adapt and not only survive but to thrive. The MDC failed to deliver the knockout punch when Zanu PF was on the ropes during the GNU and they have since become a harmless paper tiger!

The most likely threat to Mnangagwa's hold on power is from within Zanu PF, a new faction emerging from his Lacoste faction and/or teaming up with a re-energised G40.

Ever since the country's independence in 1980, Zanu PF has cheated and used all manner of violence, intimidation, harassment, beatings and even cold blooded murder to secure electoral victory. The 2008 elections were the toughest ever elections the party has ever face and to win the party resorted to extreme measures.

The 2008 elections were held at the height of Zimbabwe's worst economic meltdown; hyperinflation, fuelled by the collapse of the country's agricultural sector and the voodoo economic policy of printing money, soared to dizzying heights of 500 billion percent. The Z$ was worthless and it was near impossible to conduct any meaningful business activity. The people were desperate to get Zanu PF out of office!

"If there is only Mugabe and the donkey on the ballot paper, people will vote for the donkey!" was the common banter, at the time!

There is no doubt that Zanu PF employed its usual vote rigging tactics but, as the results of the March 2008 elections started to filter through, it was clear the party was heading for electoral defeat! The party jumped in and stopped the results being announced.

It took six weeks for the party to cook up acceptable election result. Tsvangirai's 73% vote count, by Mugabe's own Freudian slip, was reduced to 47%, enough to force a presidential run-off.

The run-off was to be an orgy of violence as Zanu PF unleashed its militant party youths and the war veterans backed by the Police, Army and CIO to destroy property, beat, rape and murder, over 500 innocent people were murdered in cold blood. The people were being punished for rejecting Mugabe in the early vote.

Tsvangirai was forced to withdraw from the run-off and Mugabe won the one-horse race with 84% of the votes.

The international community dismiss the 2008 elections as a farce. Even SADC and AU, known for endorsing dodgy Zanu PF elections in the past, could not, in all honest, ignore the blatant cheating and shocking barbarism of the 2008 elections.

SADC and AU refused to recognise Mugabe and his Zanu PF party as the legitimate government. To say Mugabe was shocked, is an understatement!

The late Robert Gabriel Mugabe was a megalomania whose hunger for power and wealth was insatiable. Ever since the day he was elected Zanu PF leader he has used every dirty trick there is to make sure he remain the top dog. He bribed and blackmailed, not always in equal measure, those around him to help him created and retain the Zanu PF dictatorship with himself as the dictator.  

So when Mugabe was given no choice but to sign the 2008 Global Political Agreement, agreeing to the implementation of a raft of democratic reforms to dismantle his dictatorship and life-time's work, he was shocked beyond words. And having to share power with Morgan Tsvangirai, the man had repeatedly called added insult to injury.

However, it gave Mugabe sleepless nights for the five years of the GNU, was the real prospect of the GNU fulfilling its primary task of implementing the democratic reforms and thus dismantle his de facto one-party dictatorship! As things turned out, Tsvangirai and his MDC friends turned out to be breathtakingly corrupt and incompetent.

Mugabe bribed the MDC leaders with the trappings of high office; the ministerial limos, the very generous salaries and allowances, regular no-expense spared overseas trips, a US$4 million mansion for Tsvangirai, etc. With their snouts in the feeding trough, MDC leaders throw the reforms out of the window. Not even the regular nagging by SADC leaders to implement the reforms could get Tsvangirai and company to implement even one reform in five years!

So Zanu PF emerged out of the GNU will all its dictatorial powers untouched and has been rigging elections as before only this time the party gave away a few gravy train seats to the opposition to entice them to participate and give the process credibility and legitimacy.

"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. As such, many aspects of the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe failed to meet international standards," stated the EU 2018 Election Mission final report."

There were 23 candidates in the July 2018 presidential race and 130 political parties, to say nothing of independent candidates, all contesting for the 210 parliamentary seats. This was proof that Zimbabweans themselves approved the country electoral standards and that surely matters more than the "international standards"!

Of course, the MDC and the rest of the opposition politicians knew that 3 million Zimbabweans in the diaspora were denied the vote (Mnangagwa was declared winner with 2.4 million votes), that there is no verified voters' roll, etc., etc. Of course, these basic requirements are universal requirement for free, fair and credible elections in Zimbabwe and anywhere in the world.

Chamisa and company knew the 2018 elections were not going to be free, fair and credible. They still participated regardless because they also knew Zanu PF was giving away the few gravy train seat - these they cannot resist!

It is now over a decade since the watershed 2008 elections and the golden opportunity for meaningful democratic changes during the GNU that followed. It is not only important to understand that MDC leaders failed to deliver the democratic reforms during the GNU but by participating in flawed and illegal elections the opposition is allowing Zanu PF to rig elections and avoid the public censor leading to a new GNU and new chance to get the reforms implemented.

Mnangagwa has ignored all calls to implement the democratic reforms to ensure 2023 elections are not a repeat of the 2018 rigged elections because he knows that the opposition will participate in the plebiscite with no reforms in place. If Chamisa et al participated in the 2013 and 2018 elections knowing Zanu PF was rigging the elections; it is hard to see why the opposition should not do so again in 2023!

Mnangagwa is almost certain to offer create Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Cabinet positions complete with ministerial limos and other perks just to sweeten the gravy train bait. Calls for reform and free and fair elections will fall on deaf MDC ears!

Source -
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