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Election boycotts, Demos and Rigging

01 Oct 2016 at 07:48hrs | Views


Of late Media has been awash with National Electoral Reforms Agenda demonstrations where Opposition parties engage in a two hour stroll in different towns with hope that ZanuPF will crumble and collapse. On paper NERA has powerful demands and people behind it.  On the ground it's another kettle of fish. Ordinary party members are cajoled to go and demonstrate while the NERA high ranking chefs, with the exception of people like Hon Bunjira, VP Khuphe and a handful others, view the police-demonstrators clash from high glass buildings. Ordinary members of the society are arrested and detained for days yet when it comes to press statements and other goodies, it is the hiding so called principals that take the limelight.


Neraism is begging platform for electoral reforms from ZanuPF. If granted, these Electoral Reforms will no doubt see ZanuPF out of power in a blink of an eye. The electoral reforms come at a time when ZanuPF is at its weakest most tattered state. NERA is advocating for a clean voters roll, non-partisan execution of duty by armed forces even by the national broadcaster. Very real and genuine issues on the table and yes it is the duty of government in waiting to put such issues under the microscope. NERAs major weakness is its boycott of the fight when the opponent is on his knees ready for a K.O, where instead of giving him that killer punch you give him time to breathe and recuperate. The big Question haunting NERA is: Will the ruling party ZanuPF ever agree to the reforms?

Ok, let's say in event that Electoral Reforms are not granted as Prof J Moyo told press club four weeks ago, what is the way forward? MDC has been demanding these reforms since its formation and so far nothing tangible has come up except in cases where zanupf has already tinkered with the screws. The NERA document states that "NO ELECTION WITHOUT REFORMS".  In other words all NERA signatory parties will be boycotting (as they already are) Zimbabwean elections till ZanuPF decides to leave power or grant reforms? Does this mean in 2018 we will have ZanuPF running circles around the smaller participating parties then? Will these organisations still expect us to call them "political parties" if they cannot participate in election? One wonders. What use is the candle if after lighting it, one puts it under the table hidden away from the eyes of the people (LUKE 11:33)?

These election boycotting political parties no longer follow the dictates of their own constitution which say that "they will participate in local government, Parliament, senatorial and presidential election whenever they are held". This is clearly handing victory over to ZanuPF through betrayal of your own followers. Maybe actually the advice to boycott elections comes from ZanuPF infiltrators.

In my books, election boycotts are not only a suicidal trap for opposition but are actually a huge travesty of justice. We are poisoning ourselves and waiting for our neighbour to die. It's absolutely no different from feeding a balanced diet to a dog in a hope it will die of malnutrition. That kind of mind-set is exactly what has given ZanuPF a comfortable majority in parliament! ZanuPF is busy campaigning, wasting resources and stretching the lead in parliamentarian seats. For the first time ever since 1980, ZanuPF has gained significant seats in Matabeleland region specifically Bulawayo, all because of opposition boycott of By-Elections. The sad truth though is that the new opposition parties may hide behind electoral reforms but the fact is known that they are just scared of testing waters while the old ones are just dry as far as funding goes. These opposition parties have perfected the song of rigged elections so much one would think it's a new 21 century campaign tool.

There is absolutely no reason for these opposition parties to cry foul of electoral reforms today yet they actually accepted the swearing in of their MPs in Jealous Mawarire's 2013 propagated elections.  MDC-T participated in January 2014 by-election remember? So what has changed now? Funds? Because as far I recall, the same electoral conditions and environment that existed in 2013 elections in which all parties participated in still exists today. If the 2013 election were not free and fair, why did the opposition accept election results where it won? Or maybe lack of electoral reforms war only applies in cases where opposition parties lose?

ZanuPF has made it clear that they will never budge in to the demands of opposition cry.  Case in point is the constitutional making process.  ZanuPF made sure that the reforms it wanted carried the day and were applicable immediately in 2013, this was in direct contrast to the opposition advocated reforms which were either disregarded or were pushed to start functioning in 2023.  NERA principals would tell you that they are having daily meetings with ZanuPF. A simple warning to you is that you are negotiating alone.  ZanuPF will never agree to your terms.  It is just buying time. It is waiting until it's too late to turn then they leave the table to prepare for 2018 elections.  If they were sincere about the reforms, why on earth would ZanuPF go ahead with the by elections without reforms? Food for thought.

Now that ZanuPF has a comfortable majority in parliament it means it can amend the constitution to whatever shape it wants, legally! It can do what it wants to do unchecked.  Thanks to the ill funded and disorganised opposition we have in Zimbabwe who instead of fighting for the rights of the people through taking parliamentary seats are actually feeding the masses to the lions through their continual dilly dallying and silly sallying when it comes to votes. Themba Mliswa is one true hero. He has campaigned and lost, he is now going for Norton seat. Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe (PDZ) and Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ) and Transform Zimbabwe (TZ) are the few remaining political parties that have carried the hope and light for the Zimbabwean electorate through participating in elections.

Jacob Ngarivhume of Transform Zimbabwe party has paid bail for most incarcerated members from the big and small parties whose members were arrested during NERA demonstrations, including Hon Ronia Bunjira of MDCT. This is a clear sign either of financial dire state of opposition parties I Zimbabwe or of disorganisation within NERA movement as far as coordination is concerned.  

One wonders if the other parties who feel are bigger than Zimbabwe are actually waiting for second coming of Christ to field candidates. Opposition parties have been shooting themselves in the foot by losing focus of the ball and focusing on petty personal wars and greed where some opportunists have taken opposition activism to be a source of employment. Their goal is to make sure they remain in opposition for the rest of their lives. They can't even envision themselves being the ruling party.  They are like dogs barking at wrong tree.

Opposition parties think that they can change the government by begging ZanuPF to relinquish power. ZanuPF will never ever metamorphose its self out of power. Its default position under any situation is to defend its self to maintain its survival where it brutally deals with and exterminate anyone or anything that poses a threat to its throne. Case in point is Itai Dzamara, Morgan Tsvangirai, Lookout Masuku, Dumiso Dabengwa, Joshua Nkomo, and Linda Masarira just to name a few luminaries who stood and fought for liberation of the masses.

Freedom is never given on silver platter. Ask ZIPRA or Umkhonto WeSizwe commanders. You work, sweat and bleed for your freedom. An oppressor will never will give you freedom just because you have a sad face or because you have asked him to. If ZIPRA and ZANLA were pressure groups, I wonder where we would still be by now. Freedom is DEMANDED and not begged. ZIPRA and ZANLA never begged Ian Douglas Smith. They demanded their freedom, when Smith looked confused, they then took their freedom form his hands and told him point black to go to hell! Juxtaposed with our situation, our own opposition seems not even certain if they want the freedom in the first place. They seem to panic at prospect of them becoming the ruling parties. They are so scared of freedom such that they are grappling around for any reason they could use to avoid freeing Zimbabweans.

NERA idealists think UN and other countries will come and force Electoral reforms on ZanuPF.  UN failed to stop the 2013 elections, UN failed to stop the 2008 elections rerun, USA failed to force ZanuPF to bow down in the GNU. People think ZanuPF was made to jump during GNU. No! ZanuPF jumped so that you could clap hands, of which that's what you did and you gave them a lifeline. ZanuPF has been in this game for long. It's a case where a man is seduced by a lady but he goes out there telling people on how powerful his women seductive skills are! No dude you were raped, wake up and smell the coffee. She didn't give in to you, you gave in to her!

Pressure groups and opposition parties may advocate for the same things to an extent of even working together.  The only difference is that political parties filed candidates in elections while pressure groups don't. So if a political party ceases to field candidates in elections, should we still say it's a political party or it would have metamorphosed its self into a pressure groups? Think about it.

Voters are a gullible group of people. If you convince them that they will be no elections without reforms, their focus moves from you to election reforms.  Their schema will read, if reforms come we will vote, otherwise we are not going to because our leader told us so.  This message they spread all over through their different channels.  Come 2018, our parties will have a toll order un-teaching the electorate and begging them to go and vote if reforms are not granted. It confuses the message if on one hand we tell our supporters to register to vote and on the other we tell them to boycott votes. At what point will these opposition take a test run and see where they lack? ZanuPF is doing test runs every by- elections. And people may start liking it because it is already campaigning in fear of the impending Coalition of opposition parties.

Will NERA DEMOS WILL succeed?

So far the clock points to failure of Neraism. These demos will mostly likely fizzle out like snow in the sun sooner or later.  That is a fact. That failure rate has also been reproduced in like demonstrations we have tried to do in Zimbabwe. If we accept that these street strolls have yielded nothing much in the past then we can work on other more effective ways of getting to our destiny rather than waiting in glee for the inevitable catastrophe to occur.

According to Japhet Moyo, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Zimbabweans lost 20,000 jobs in July 2015 due to a court ruling where companies could fire and hire at will. We hollered and kicked again, we checked around for sympathetic eyes. Nothing came. Dementia quickly set in.  The short memory disease crippled us again. Today no one remembers the victims of job cuts triggered by the 2015 Hon Nelson Chamisa's advocated court case where he argued that companies had the right to fire and hire at will.

No one is even talking about the poverty and unjust treatment the fired workers had to endure. We only raise the subject when we need to support ourselves and not really to alleviate the plight of affected former workers. No protests were even attempted even for a full day. Just across our borders to the south, South African authorities learnt a good lesson not to tempter with masses during the month and a half long Marikana protests from 10th of August to 20th of September 2012. The strike didn't take 2 hours, 12 hours or 24 hours.  It took 960 hours of serious none stop protests. It left 44 dead, not arrested, but dead for the voices of downtrodden South African masses to be heard.

It must be clear from word go that NERA-ism is similar to a Central bank governor trying to apply bookish economics theories in a situation where there is absolutely no economy. Ask former RBZ governor Dr G Gono about it. It's like Zimbabwe telling USA to go to hell while on the other hand begging them for our own survival.  ZanuPF will never take opposition parties seriously because they themselves don't take themselves seriously. Opposition parties have taken to using NERA as a score board to test how strong or weak other parties are in terms of attendance. They claim to have a unity of purpose but NERA is just a collection of opposition parties who still maintain their individual identities.

These NERA signatory opposition parties still take priority in their own party business at the expense of NERA business. Recent case is the 17th of September 2016 demonstrations where the so called principals were suddenly "committed elsewhere on party or personal business" yet they expect their followers to fully partake in the demonstrations. No NERA principal has ever been arrested because the said leaders are always MIA whenever there is need.  Not even the main national coordinators bothered with pitching up at the demo.  NERA has become a platform for opposition parties to wind down and meet their long lost friends and relatives.


Government recently tested seriousness of NERA-ism by banning demonstrations for over two weeks. NERA-lites simply panicked and obeyed.  They became police men unto each other to make sure no one participated any demonstrations for a fortnight. The saddest thing is that the ban was initially meant for Harare CBD but the NERA scared leaders misinterpreted it and instead told their eager followers that the ban was a Zimbabwean blanket ban. This left government perplexed and shell shocked at such utter lies. Anyhow, the NERA principals successfully put a lid on any activities for a good two weeks.

After two weeks Government then decided to end the NERA principals' cowardice and opened the flood gates. NERA-lites quickly jumped into action and held their demonstrations which left a lot to be desired as far as intra and inter party coordination goes. In a twinkle of an eye, ZanuPF immediately removed the Neraism from its list of headaches opting to replace it with Ace Lumumba and Themba Mliswa instead. Government would rather waste its resources on VIVA Zimbabwe or YARD than thinking about or infiltrating Neraism movement.

In the two week ban experiment, Government acted as the scientist while NERA leadership acted as the subjects.  Government controlled the conditions while the subjects just responded to what government wanted or prescribed. Think about it for a second: What will NERA principals do if government decides to ban demos for 6 months? Will they wait for March 2017? Seems so. That's a very weird way of leading a revolution. It's like a rapist gives you their contacts numbers and asks you to be in touch whenever you are lonely or scared. It's unfortunate because a noble Neraism movement has become a mockery and too superficial in all aspects.


There is only one legitimate way to remove ZanuPF. Forget about the over played song of rigging and rig masters. The only viable solution to removing Mugabe and the archaic ZanuPF machinery is via the ballot box. Try all avenues and routes, all will lead to the polling station. Occupy parliament today, do a permanent stay away, all will lead to the ballot box. Whatever route you take, destination is the same. It is best for the opposition parties to keep the final destination clear and well oiled. PARTICIPATE IN ELECTIONS AND WIN THE SAME WAY YOU HAVE BEEN WINNING IN THE PREVIOUS ELECTIONS UNDER SAME CONDITIONS WHICH GAVE YOU MPs TODAY.

Harvey MacKay once lamented that time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back. Time is not on our side. At this juncture let's put it clearly out here that ZanuPF will not budge into any agreement that will see its self out of power.  It is best right now to prepare for the next elections to be held by July 2018. How far have we gone as far as preparations are concerned? If we are not going to participate, let's tell the people while there is still time.  Let's avoid last minute rush and panic.  As we speak right now, people in the diaspora do not know is they should prepare to come and vote or not. Our duty as the opposition parties is to be out there campaigning for 2018. Let's avoid element of surprise which shocked MDC in 2013. No matter how democratic a society is, you can never find 100% free and fair elections. Remember Kerry-Bush cat fight in the state of Ohio during 2004 presidential election? The voters roll was not in perfect order and they were even issues of Mary Poppins appearing in their voter registers, something that Republicans felt was not correct. But still the election went ahead. We make amends as we go, hence we always amend our constitution.

Once you mention elections to a Zimbabwean, the next line is: what about rigging? ( be continued)



Source - Mangosuthu Mbele
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