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Spectre of Zanu PF thugs rigging party primaries underlines folly of participating in 2023 without even verified voters' roll

30 Mar 2023 at 11:36hrs | Views
"Matsotsi haagerani!" (Crooks do not cut each other's hair!) so goes the Shona adage. Meaning it is one thing the crooks playing their mischief on the unsuspecting public, when one of them is the victim; they do not like it one bit!

All the losing candidates in the Zanu PF primary elections have complained the elections were rigged. One of the losing candidates could not even vote for himself because his name and many of his supporters were no longer on the membership register! He was shocked at just how many new members had joined the party in the last weeks before the primary!

Tales of Zanu PF blatantly rigging the national elections, including the use of wanton violence, are abound. During the Zanu PF elections there was the usual vote buying. Come the national elections, there will be a bigger stick and a small carrot.  

"We allowed people to lodge complaints, an ad-hoc special tribunal will be meeting today (yesterday) and outcomes of these complaints will affect results," said Mike Bimha, Zanu PF National Political Commissar.
Complaining at national election level has been a complete waste of time, since the ruling party Zanu PF has captured and corrupted the state institutions like ZEC, Police, judiciary, etc. It was laughable when Nelson Chamisa lodged a Constitutional Court challenge the 2018 presidential elections results. The same judiciary had just ruled the November 2017 military coup "justified, legal and constitutional"!  

Any day now, President Mnangagwa will dissolve parliament and announce the date for presidential, parliamentary and local council elections. The nation has not yet produced a verified voters' roll, nor is it likely to do so now!

Indeed, ever since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, the country has never ever produced a verified voters' roll. Never ever!

How can we expect to hold free, fair and credible elections without something as basic as a verified voters' roll beggars belief! The Americans were reminding us of this, calling on ZEC to "polish" the voters roll and avail it to the public to guarantee credible polls.

"The consistent message that we provided to the government was that we are calling for peaceful elections. That was the issue that we raised with both the government and the opposition leaders. We call for political leaders to come out and call for peace during and after the elections," Robert Scott, USA deputy assistant in the Bureau of African Affairs, reminded Zimbabweans.

"They should disavow any of their members who resort to violence instead of a peaceful exchange of ideas, transparent elections which include polishing the voters roll, accrediting long-term international and local observers and inclusive elections that include allowing the media to report freely, and the civil society organisations."

This is not the first time the American have called for free and fair elections nor are they the only ones to do so. The EU, Commonwealth, SADC and many others have done so but all to no avail. It was none other than SADC who proposed and were the guarantor of the 2008 Global Political Agreement (GPA) whose primary purpose was implement the democratic reforms to guarantee free, fair and credible elections.

In June 2013 SADC leaders made a last-minute bid to get the democratic reforms implemented before the elections. "If you participate in the elections, you will lose. The elections are done!" they warned Morgan Tsvangirai and his fellow MDC leaders in Maputo in 2013. As we know, their warning fall on deaf ears and, in disgust, SADC leaders have ever since endorsed Zanu PF rigged elections granting the party legitimacy.

Ever since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, Zanu PF leaders have always believed they have the right to rule the country by right of conquest; they are the ones who fought and defeated the white colonial government. Robert Mugabe and his cronies had their way, they would have imposed a de jure one-party state but had to settle for a de facto one-party state instead. They have maintained their iron grip on power all these last 43 years by rigging the elections; period.

The only time Zanu PF did not enjoy absolute power was during the 2008 to 2013 GNU when SADC refused to recognise the party's election victory because of the blatant cheating and wanton violence. Being asked to share power with Morgan Tsvangirai was the most humiliating time in Mugabe's whole political career - up to that point. (Worse time was when he was booted out of office in the 2017 military coup!)

Mugabe had always assumed that SADC will turn a blind eye to his election shenanigans and grant his regime legitimacy. When SADC refused to endorse his 2008 election victory, it was a really shock to him. He had never thought SADC would dare to hold him to political account.  

Mugabe thanked his lucky stars that MDC leaders turned out to be so hopeless corrupt and incompetent they failed to implement even one reform during the GNU. And so Zanu PF emerged out of the GNU with all its dictatorial power untouched. Still he was shrewd enough to scrap the one-party state ethos and replace it with a façade of Zimbabwe as a multi-party democracy. All he had to do was to bribe the opposition to make sure they participated in the elections no matter how flawed and illegal the process got. SADC leaders have obliging reverted to turning a blind eye to Zanu PF election shenanigans as long as the opposition participated.
And so Zanu PF will ignore the call to produce a verified voters' roll, to free the media, etc., etc. because the party is confident of two things:
1)    That the opposition will participate in these elections in numbers regardless how flawed and illegal the process happened to be.

2)    That SADC will endorse the election process regardless how flawed and illegal the process happened to be. SA's ruling ANC government has already said it would not permit regime change in Zimbabwe (presumably, regardless how flawed and illegal the election happened to be). It is sweet music to the Zanu PF leadersx ears!
The task of implementing the democratic reforms to ensure free and fair elections has never been more urgent than it is right now with the country in a serious economic and political mess. 43 years of the Zanu PF dictatorship has left the country in economic ruins and political paralysis another rigged elections to give the regime five more years of this chaos and human suffering is unthinkable.

We cannot stop Zanu PF rigging the 2023 elections, it is too late to do it. What we can and must do is make sure that this time, Zanu PF does not get political legitimacy by:

a)    Denouncing the electoral process for failing to produce a verified voters' roll, no free media, denying 3 million in the diaspora or 37% of voters the vote, etc. How can such a flawed and illegal process produce a legitimate government!

b)    Denounce the opposition for not only selling out by failing to implement the democratic reforms and by insisting on participating in flawed elections out of greed and to give the flawed election some modicum of credibility. How can discredited opposition give the vote rigging Zanu PF legitimacy.

c)    SADC election observers must, like all the other election observers stick to their task of judging whether the elections process is free, fair and credible to internationally accepted democratic elections norms. To judge rigged elections as "substantial free and fair" to stop regime change or to punish the incompetent opposition is totally unacceptable particularly since it is the ordinary people who are paying dearly for the erroneous judgement.

Zanu PF thugs rigged their own party primary elections because their love for absolute power and loot is insatiable and it is naïve to expect them not to do the same with the national elections, especially when the failure to implement the reforms gave them carte blanche powers to rig the elections. Indeed, it is insane to expect a democratic result after 43 years of Mafia style Zanu PF rigged elections.   

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