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The day Zanu-PF stole the election

17 Jun 2023 at 08:11hrs | Views
WITH less than four days to go before the nomination court sits, the opposition is in disarray and still trying to find its way out of the political dust raised by Zanu-PF this week.

The ruling party has laid its ducks in a row, but most is duplicity that a majority of the electorate will only realise after the fact.

Zanu-PF has since completed the nomination processes and its agents are undergoing training.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is busy criss-crossing the country electioneering under the guise of launching one or another of the government projects.

His re-election war chest is brimming. The evidence is everywhere to see. From the party-branded 4x4 vehicles dished to each parliamentary candidate to the truckloads of election paraphernalia, the party machinery is on a roll.

First Lady Auxillia is complementing the election efforts in her subtle philanthropic programmes that are covered daily in the State-controlled media.

On Wednesday, the National Assembly endorsed the new nomination fees that were gazetted last year.

The fees were gazetted as Statutory Instrument 144 of 2022 and were never brought to Parliament until after the Constitutional Court ordered the august House to do its duty and scrutinise the constitutionality of the regulations that to all intents and purposes weed out poor candidates from the ballot way before polling day.

The regulations set the nomination fees at US$20 000 for presidential candidates, US$1 000 for parliamentarians, US$200 each person on a party-list to fill proportional representation seats and US$100 for councillors.

A simple calculation shows that for a party to contest all available seats, it needs the princely sum of around US$500 000.

The feeble and belated protests were brushed aside in Parliament with Zanu-PF using its majority.

The ruling party rode on the long-established political position that the minority may speak, but the majority decides.

It is not stretching the imagination too far to say the opposition will be lucky to field 80% of the candidates in all vacancies available.

In simple terms, after the June 21 nomination, Zanu-PF will have duly elected candidates because the financially struggling opposition would have failed to nominate some candidates.

This would be the first election to be decided by the size of the war chest that each party can assemble.

This brings us to the question of political party financing and the attendant reforms that are needed if democracy has to thrive in Zimbabwe. Will turn back to this later.

Earlier this week, presidential spokesman George Charamba unintentionally revealed how government is ready to cheat citizens to gain re-election.

He made it plain to all who can read and comprehend that Mnangagwa and his government are going for broke to be re-elected even if it means that Zimbabweans will literally sleep in the dark post the August 23 general elections.

Charamba using the Twitter handle @Tinoedzazvimwe1 tweeted: "Kuronga-ronga: Second republic inofunga zvekuti heki!!! It has engaged the Zambezi River Authority to front-load our allocation of water for power generation for the year so we: (a) ensure uninterrupted supply of power to wheat farmers until September, October; (b) buy time as we put our two generators online, which is already happening!!! #EDWorks!!!"

In simple terms, Zimbabwe is using its water quota in advance. Once this quota is exhausted, most likely after elections, Zimbabwe will be back to its 12 to 18-hour rolling power blackouts.

It, however, remains important to note that they are more concerned about controlling the political narrative going into the elections.

The electricity crisis has largely evolved to be an electoral issue. In 2018, Mnangagwa promised that by 2023, Zimbabwe would be generating 3 000 megawatts (MW) of electricity. This figure was ambitious.

To date, the only notable power generation plant added to the grid is Hwange 7 and 8 expansion projects. At optimum operation, this is meant to provide an additional 600MW to the national grid.

Even with that new additional power, Zimbabwe would still be in an energy deficit. Power cuts are a new normal, except to the rich who can afford to put their own solar systems at their homes or industries.

Zimbabwe is also going through a hyperinflationary phase, where its currency is losing value against hard currencies. This has led to a steep rise in the cost of basic commodities, leaving many working people deep in poverty.

Salaries and wages have been eroded and most workers are struggling to keep up with their needs.

Many workers have called incapacitation to get to work and pensioners have to spend more travelling to banks to get pensions that are less than their bus fare. Something will give in soon.

Back to political party financing. It is clear that Zanu-PF has the biggest war chest among all the political parties. They have more than a thousand new cars for this election and millions of election material received from China. In Cowdray Park, Bulawayo, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube spending is on steroids. This is the same across the country.

What baffles many is where Zanu-PF is getting all this money for these campaigns. It is high time the Political Parties (Finance) Act is amended and all political parties compelled to publicly declare the sources of their funding to the dollar.

Otherwise, Zimbabwe runs the risk of being captured by shadowy characters who are donating to political parties anonymously.

It has become imperative that election dates should now be stipulated in law so that no political party has the advantage of the incumbency in knowing exactly when an election is due and start preparations ahead of its competitors.

It is a conceivable argument that Zanu-PF had a voters roll in advance while the opposition will reach the nomination day without one.

The opposition cannot be certain if the people who nominate their candidates are in the right wards or constituencies.

Zanu-PF has used crude tactics from the day Mnangagwa proclaimed the election date.

They are two steps ahead of the opposition, but a recovery can be made — just hope the opposition can mount a comeback for the good of our nascent democracy.

    Paidamoyo Muzulu is a journalist based in Harare. He writes here in his personal capacity.

Source - newsday
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