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Zimbabwe - What lessons can be drawn from the Zambian elections

17 Aug 2021 at 09:28hrs | Views
The Zambian election has come and gone and Zimbabweans what lessons can be drawn from it. Well, to begin with Zambia got its independence in 1964 from the United Kingdom, with Kenneth Kaunda as its first president under the political party UNIP (United National Independence Party) He was ousted in 1991 after he introduced multi-party politics by Frederick Chiluba the leader of the MMD (Movement for Multi-Party Democracy) The MMD lead by Mwanawasa was later ousted by a breakaway party from the MMD, the Patriotic front (PF) led by Michael Sata, who upon his death was succeeded by Edgar Lungu, recently ousted by Hakainde Hichilema, now the new Zambian 7th president.

One key aspect that stands out about the Zambian political culture is the absence of a military culture. Despite the use of the military to harass the opposition by incumbents, there is a general acceptance that the Constitution is supreme. The military generally stays in the barracks and allows the people to play their civic role of choosing the next batch of public officials.

Strong Institutions

Attempts by incumbent Edgar Lungu to subvert the electoral process when he attempted to stop the electoral commission of Zambia from reading out the election results fell on deaf ears. Key institutions like the law society association of Zambia came out guns blazing and condemned attempts to subvert the will of the people. It was interesting to see how the state institutions immediately encircled to provide security to the new president as soon as his win was confirmed. Strong independent institutions are key for any nation to move forward. In a country where institutions are under the thumb of a personality, change of guard becomes an impossibility. It is not a secret that in 2008 Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai worn the presidential election. In a country with weak institutions, winning an election is one thing, converting election victory into power completely another.

Ways around military

It is common knowledge that Zimbabwe is governed by a military dictatorship. The military runs the elections, it owns and runs the ruling party ZANU PF. In essence, there is a conflation of party and state. The ruling party ZANU PF is the government, and the government is ZANU PF. The biggest challenge Zimbabweans have is to break the monopoly of the military on civilian politics. In a normal world, the people choose their leaders every five years with their choices unhindered by third parties. This model has been turned upside down in Zimbabwe and the people vote at the mercy of a militarized ZANU PF.

Vision 2030 promises

Zimbabweans, remain wood winked by the same political party, the same promises since independence. Forty-one years on they have been through ESAP, VISION 2020, and many other economic policies, and now we are told this is a second republic run by the same people who were in cabinet in 1980.

Edgar Lungu didn't lose the election because he was not building infrastructure. He was building roads, airports and so on using money borrowed from the Chinese. The problem was that these projects came at highly inflated prices because the prices were loaded to accommodate corruption. But none of this money benefited the man in the street. In Zimbabwe we are told the new dispensation is building roads, Airports and other infrastructure. The actual truth is that these projects are merely vehicles for corruption. Nothing is being done to improve the lives of the people.

Register to vote

Whilst the military has power, it can never have power more than the people. In sufficient numbers, the people can have the government they want. Zimbabweans, especially young Zimbabweans, need to register to vote. The Zambian change agenda was carried by the young people. The young people are the leaders of tomorrow. The future is in their hands. No regime can withstand people in their numbers. Rigging becomes an impossibility if the voters turn up in their numbers. Zimbabwe 2023 is around the corner. The future is in your hands, not the military.


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