Elections 2011: ready, set, go?


The Global Political Agreement (GPA) is gradually moving towards its second anniversary with its chassis structurally still in shape but the wheels have already lost alignment as they are pulling into different directions. Admittedly the great citizens of this country have been afforded some sigh of relief and an opportunity to recover economically since the formation of the existing compromise government in Zimbabwe.
Indeed the embattled people of Zimbabwe have taken a rest from the humiliating routine of scavenging for even the most basic of commodities like bread, sugar and salt as in the era prior 2009 since these commodities are now readily available in the shops, with motorists enjoying not only the free windscreen cleaning service of yesteryear from service stations, but also the ability to buy fuel worth even a dollar when you are broke.
However, from the day this coalition government was born it has always been sickly and hounded by its parent’s bickering and skirmishing over who wields more power than the other.
The sixteen month old inclusive government incrementally suffers from incoherence and fighting especially between the two main actors President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. There remains a deep rooted incongruence between the two and the parties they represent.
Mugabe refuses to share gubernatorial posts with his partners in government, he still abuses the public media to his advantage and whilst he might want economic recovery for this country he simply can’t be moved an inch towards meaningful political reform. He forgets from his several degrees that the latter facilitates the former.
Succinctly put where the MDC has moved ten steps ahead Zanu PF has yet to complete their second step towards political reform and sanitisation of Zimbabwe’s fouled political infrastructure.
The marriage of convenience seems to have been doomed from the start and as fate would tell, divorce papers are already being signed by the protagonists to the marriage. Is the uneasy marriage of convenience called GPA sustainable any longer, or will it perpetuate on resilience and endurance like any other marriages within our midst?
Are the pronunciations and insinuations coming from Zanu PF and MDC hinting on a possible election in 2011 instructive enough? Are the parties to the unity government themselves ready to have an election so soon? A few weeks ago, the leader of the inconsequential and smaller faction of the MDC Professor Arthur Mutambara told his party supporters to brace for an election soon. Before this announcement Mutambara and his party were on record of being fearful of an election at any given time.
Theirs has been a utopian dream that the GPA shall live perpetually for “it is the best thing ever to happen to Zimbabwe”. This group of political charlatans have a strong detest for elections, admittedly so because they appreciate their apparent lack of popularity within the electorate, and in a democracy, if you have no huge base of supporters who later translate into votes, you are out of power.
Mutambara’s MDC acknowledges that their political life is only sustained by the GPA which unfortunately continues to be an unstable, unpredictable and a failing marriage of convenience.
Now to think that this group of individuals would wish for an election in Zimbabwe any time soon is to the least day dreaming. Indeed nobody would wish to know or see the day his death certificate will be written.
It therefore becomes axiomatic that Mutambara appreciates and is actually at a closer view of the ever widening abysmal rift between Tsvangirai and Mugabe.
In as much as he knows that the antagonism between the two is a generational difference he has no political clout to handle them both. Therefore Mutambara’s admission and apparent pretensions that his party might be ready for elections as well, is misleading foolhardy.
The MDC led by Tsvangirai has been justifiably making the loudest demands for an election in 2011. They are playing the aggrieved part in the marriage. Their bitterness and frustration understandably began in 2008 when Zanu PF grabbed their morsel of bread at a time they were ready to chew.
The revolutionary party went into hiding with someone’s food for five weeks before re-emerging pretending to be a good boy by offering half of the looted bread as a compromise for unity.
The GPA was lucidly and clearly prescriptive that the partners in the compromise government should treat each other with dignified respect and each of them honouring to following the letter and spirit of the agreement. With the Tsvangirai led MDC having had shown unparalleled statesmanship in agreeing to share authority with Zanu PF, who lost the election, the latter betrayed the former by refusing to implement most of what they agreed on.
So the MDC has not seen a civilised Zanu PF since the advent of the GNU, instead there has been a sustained and systematic continuation of the torture, ridicule, abuse , arrest and murder of the MDC leadership and its members in general.
This has created a hopeless situation for Tsvangirai to imagine that the GPA would manifest into a stable governing authority. To him, as he always suspected, Zanu PF is reluctant to reform into a modern civilised party, a behaviour that militates against efforts towards political sanitisation and economic recovery. The MDC-T has belief that an election conducted in fairness and freeness should usher in a legitimate and people chosen governing authority. Their hope is that by 2011 Zimbabwe would have undergone far reaching political reforms that are adequate for the conducting of an acceptably free and fair election
l Jack Pedzisai Zaba is a political scientist and an elections specialist based in Harare
Email: zabajack09@gmail.com