HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsZuma’s return and the invigoration of electoral sanity

Zuma’s return and the invigoration of electoral sanity

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After the enthralling month of the World Cup, we hear that there is now serious consideration by President Zuma to reincarnate his momentous efforts in the Zimbabwe political situation. The nature and structure of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in Zimbabwe rears a hideous and compromising stance in consideration to its acclaimed intentions and projections.
President Jacob Zuma’s team had earlier shuttled between Harare and Pretoria, without any seeming breakthrough. Now there is need to pay particular attention to the time-swayed convolutions that have transpired during the lay-off period in which Zuma was romancing with the World Cup hype.
There has been a transpiration of fundamental political activity in Zimbabwe since the last time Zuma’s team set foot in the country. Their last attempt was to influence the full compliance and effectiveness of the seemingly slippery GPA terms.
The political parties have faced so much internal and external intricacies which have led to new frontiers of considerations and strategic intention. Zuma’s re-entry must be marked by a need to understand the shifted ground upon which the GPA now settles and the political parties’ new focus and motivations.
The World Cup allowed for a momentary withdrawal of Zuma’s interventions in order to permit the deep-setting political maneuverings that now glaringly shape our potentially explosive future.
What seemed to transpire during this opportunistic period is a total disregard of the once pivotal GPA terms fulfilment. In the last two months we have heard less talk from the MDC-T on their compelling call for the full execution of the terms of the agreement.
They had obviously viewed it as bringing them leverage in their quest for governmental equality. On the other hand we have had less of the rapturous goal-shifting antics from the power-addicted Zanu PF. We have observed the tacit yet convenient ejection of the GPA incongruity from the agenda of our divided politics. This has been replaced with some marked interest by the two main parties to prepare for the retirement of this contention. The Constitutional process has commenced amid some rushed and over-simplification of the process confirming that it’s being viewed as a procedural conduit towards just some desired finality. With the constitution has come the flexing of muscles by Zanu PF and MDC-T in rolling out their campaign machinery to project their influence towards their preferred terms in the pending and already-distressed process.
Beyond the posturing for the constitution, we have also entered the election preparation period. Zanu PF is more daring in its exposition as we have seen the re-emergence of radio and television jingles that are redolent of what we experienced prior to each election since 2000.
The MDC-T has been less evocative but however they have been strategically re-organising and setting up what seems to point towards election preparedness.
There is therefore an ingenious consensus among the parties to streamline all political indication towards this resolve. This concurrence is laced by an indicative frustration with each other thereby opting for the most expeditious opportunity to off-load the other.
Each party obviously views an election as just that prospect. So as Zuma comes back into the fold, he has options to consider. If he is purely going back to the fulfillment of the terms of the GPA, that would be a return to prehistoric dinosaurs that only exist in our political imagination.
He would either stash himself into irrelevance or merely draw political ridicule by trying to move against a political tide that has gained sweeping momentum. The parties may however inactively listen to him but without intent only to buy time towards the already crafted eventuality.
Zuma is however advised to read the political mood and to evaluate his well-intended intervention in consideration of the complex but contextual reality of the Zimbabwe situation. Yes his efforts must be directed at strategically holding the parties to account for the GPA responsibilities.
However there must be more focus on ensuring a respectable conclusion to the tainted constitutional process and an eventual election thereafter.
Zuma must be encouraged to start to rally Sadc and the AU towards building a credible electoral environment in Zimbabwe. Local civil society, churches and progressive society must wake up and smell the coffee.
There must be realisation that the election mood has set and political machinery is now all out from all parties to set in motion towards the polls. Inaction at this time will allow the resurfacing of the 2008 debacle.
Zuma’s continued interests and assignment in Zimbabwe is an opportunity to influence him towards the creation of a totally progressive electoral environment and mechanism in order to allow democracy an opportunity.
Zuma’s re-entry must not be allowed to waste away in grappling with hysterics, but must be capitalised to create a provision for GNU-retiring elections. This must then never take us back into the cycle of political experimentation, manipulation, disputes and the amputation of normality.
The election milieu is already upon us and we need to realise that. As Zuma comes back, we need to activate our mechanisms to respond by directing his efforts where it matters.
Our society and communities must also ensure that we don’t return to the insanity of 2008 where political party identity eclipsed our national character, where an election became the fatality of our national dignity.
Together with Zuma, let’s create an electoral environment where we can intentionally pursue the issues of nation-building and the restoration of our dignified self-respect.
Zuma’s return must mark an intention for the invigoration of our quest for electoral sanity.

Trevor Maisiri is the founder and Executive Director of the African Reform Institute – a politics “think tank” based in Harare. He can be contacted on trevormaisiri@gmail.com

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