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'Everyone must vote to effect Zambia type regime change' - how will 3 m in diaspora denied vote, vote

19 Aug 2021 at 08:56hrs | Views
"Umorasiswa chirimuruoko, chirimuropa unofa nacho!" (Poison in your hand can be thrown away, if it is in your blood, it will kill you.) So goes a Shona adage!

Some Zimbabweans have it in the heads that Zimbabwe can replicate Zambia's election success and finally achieve the long-awaited regime change!

"The Zambians mastered and mapped out strategies which I believe are:
--  Massive voter registration, mainly first-time voters and the youth;
--  Commitment to go and cast a ballot by every citizen eligible to vote; and
--   Defend and protection of vote by the youth," argued National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) Executive Chairman Eng. Mugari Joelson.

"Everyone must go and vote. The first and most important step is the voter registration process. Political parties are taking a back seat in their push for electoral reforms. Citizens are not interested in any further disputed election results."

Mugari and his NERA friends are supposed to be championing electoral reforms! They are arguing people to register to vote, to protect the vote, etc. and none of these activities have anything to do with electoral reforms. Indeed, they have abandoned the call for reforms and are convinced the democratic changes the nation has been dying for all these years can be achieved without implementing any democratic reforms.

"Everyone must go and vote!" How naïve!

Mnangagwa has just decided that the 3 million plus Zimbabweans in the diaspora will, once again, be denied the right to vote. So, "everyone" does not include those in the diaspora! Mnangagwa supposedly won the 2018 elections with a total of 2.4 million votes or 50.8% of the cast votes. How can the election be legal, free, fair and credible when 3 out of 8 potential voters are denied the vote?

Even those Zimbabweans in the country have been routinely denied the vote. For those in the opposition strongholds, it is near impossible to register as a voter. If you managed to jump through all the hoops and register; you will find your name is not even on the voters' roll or it is in the wrong polling station voters' roll. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary Zimbabwe have failed to vote for no fault of their own.

ZEC is legally obliged to produce a verified voters' roll at least one calendar month before nomination day. ZEC has never ever produced a verified voters' roll in the 41 years of the country's independence.

The EU Election Observer Mission reported that the 2018 elections lacked "transparency, traceability and verifiability", not surprising when there is no verified voters' roll, and that ZEC lacked independence. The Mission report gave a list of democratic reforms that should implemented to ensure future elections are free, fair and credible and not just a repeat past rigged elections.

Zanu-PF has not implemented even one meaningful reform from the EU Mission report. Not one! Zanu-PF has found allies in this from the country's opposition parties and their acolytes such as NERA who have pushed the counter narrative that Zimbabwe can have it all without implementing any reforms.

Mnangagwa is not a cunning devil like Mugabe; far from it. Still, he is smart enough to know Zanu-PF would lose its iron grip on power if he implemented any democratic reforms. And, so has been as keen as mustard in encouraging the opposition, NERA, etc. to forget about reforms and participate in elections regardless how flawed and illegal the process happened to be.

Ever since the 2013 elections, Zanu-PF has offered a few gravy train seats, a share of the annual Political Party Finance Act pay-out and, Mnangagwa's new attraction, generous perks to all presidential candidates who join POLAD. The perks to POLAD members are to buy their silence and to entice them and others to join the 2023 rat race.

There were 23 presidential candidates alone in the 2018 elections; proof, as far as Mnangagwa is concerned, the elections were free, fair and credible. He has argued that the opposition politicians would not participate in such huge numbers otherwise!

Instead of Zanu-PF getting its political mandate from winning the majority votes in legal, free, fair and credible elections; the party is getting its legitimacy from the participation of corrupt opposition politicians.

Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends should have paid heed to the SADC leaders' advice to postpone the 2013 elections until reforms were implemented. MDC leaders ignored the warning and Zanu-PF went on to blatantly rig the 2013 and 2018 elections. To argue that we go into the 2023 elections with no reforms is insane!

Zanu-PF has had more than 40 years to systematically erode the independence of the nation's democratic institutions, corrupt them and turn them into party departments in all but name. It is naïve to expect ZEC, Police, etc. to deliver the people's right to free and fair elections when these institutions' number one priority now is ensuring there is no regime change at all costs!

Now that some people have it in the heads that Zambia effected regime change with no reforms, they think it must be possible to do the same in Zimbabwe regardless of the corrupt state institutions! Asking them to throw away that idea is going to be a real challenge!

"Everyone must go and vote!" Yeah right! Tell that to the 3 million in the diaspora have just been told they will, once again, be denied the vote, for no reason other than to safeguard the "no regime change".

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