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Zim needs free, fair election

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The purported presidential election run-off that was held on June 27,2008 was a complete farce.

This was an unmitigated electoral circus that received unequivocal and total condemnation locally, regionally and internationally.

No single election observer, even from Sadc and the African Union, managed to give that electoral farce a clean bill of health.

At the end of the day, that electoral fiasco failed the ultimate test of legitimacy and for the first time in recorded global history, a candidate who had “won” 85,5% of the votes in a presidential election, was literally forced to share power with the “loser”.

We have to learn some tough lessons from the fiasco of June 27, 2008. The first lesson is simply that an election should be free and fair in order for the results to pass the test of legitimacy.

A terror-filled and violent electoral contest where opposing political activists are beaten up, raped, maimed and brutally murdered can never and, indeed, will never pass the test of legitimacy.

No right-thinking person, no matter how supportive they are of a political party’s cause, will ever grant legitimacy to an “election” in which hordes of women and girls are violently raped, their houses and properties burnt and where innocent, unarmed and peace-loving civilians are bludgeoned into submission; all in the name of “protecting the gains of the liberation struggle”.

An election should be precisely what it is meant to be, a free and fair contest in which competing political players fight for power through the ballot box.

The moment an election degenerates into a physical contest where the mighty and powerful resort to the use of knobkerries, machetes and guns against the weak and vulnerable, then it ceases to be an election. It becomes something akin to a war.

And war is the last thing that patriotic and peace-loving Zimbabweans want in their little, beautiful country.

Zimbabwe is now in an election mode; wittingly or unwittingly. Some of us, from the very beginning, knew that this so-called inclusive government was anything but inclusive. Indeed, it is a misnomer to call the present Zimbabwe government an inclusive government.

It is not. I don’t exactly know what to call it but it is neither an inclusive government nor a government of national unity. I will just call it “the government”.

A marriage can only succeed and be happy if the parties to the marriage first and foremost show love for one another.

In addition, a marriage can only succeed if the parties to it show respect and tolerance for each other.

One does not have to come from outer space in order to appreciate that there is no love lost between the two major parties to the government i.e. the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Zanu PF.

Of course, there can never be love and trust when one partner has an inherent DNA of violence and a penchant for both physical and emotional abuse.

I have always known Zanu PF to be an inherently violent and intolerant party and I would challenge all right-thinking patriots to prove me wrong.

This is a party that believes in violence as an essential tool for mass mobilisation. This is why I am profoundly proud of the fact that I have never, in my life, supported Zanu PF.

The Zimbabwe government has tremendous potential to turn around the fortunes of this otherwise great country.

But because we are caught up in a loveless and abusive forced marriage of convenience, we have always taken one step forward and two steps backwards.

Put differently, we have failed to effectively turn around the economic fortunes of our country not because of so-called “sanctions”. I am on record as having stated that there are no sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe by the European Union and the US.

Sanctions . . . what sanctions? I am extremely proud to hold this very correct viewpoint. Once again, I challenge any right-thinking patriot to prove me wrong.

In the same breath, I quickly admit that for the past decade or so, the majority of the people of Zimbabwe have suffered under debilitating and very harsh home-engendered sanctions.

The most lethal sanctions imposed against the people of Zimbabwe are exemplified by the totalitarian denial of democratic space, violence, hate, intolerance, greed and corruption as practised by the Zanu PF administration before Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC decided to move into government to salvage the situation in February 2009.

I am the first person to acknowledge that the present Zimbabwe government cannot and indeed, should not have lasting staying power.

This is so simply because one of the partners to the government, Zanu PF, has made no secret of its paranoid disdain for democratic governance that encompasses the key values of honesty, transparency and accountability.

Whereas Prime Minister Tsvangirai and the MDC believe in honesty, transparency and accountability; Zanu PF survives on a diet of violence, intolerance, corruption and greed.

They believe in running a mafia-style economy where private individuals are now considerably wealthier than the national treasury itself.

Can somebody please tell me where all the money from the Chiadzwa diamonds is going?

The problem is not Tendai Biti. No. Biti is too intelligent and too smart to indulge in the kind of unmitigated looting and pilfering of diamonds that has been the hallmark of Chiadzwa.

Can somebody tell me why we are paying our civil servants peanuts at a time that no less than $43 million is collected from the sale of Chiadzwa diamonds monthly?

Where is the money? Why are we so poor yet we are so rich? My friends that is Zanu PF for you. Vintage Zanu PF.

Back to the issue of elections.

Yes; I agree that Zimbabwe needs elections. But then we have to be very careful about the type of elections that we are referring to here. We do not want a repeat and replay of the June 27, 2008 fiasco. No; we don’t.

We want a genuine, free and fair election in which all contesting parties and individuals will be free to go and campaign in any part of the country.

We want a free and fair election that will give the toiling masses of Zimbabwe an opportunity to freely and democratically choose a government of their choice. And you will realise why Zanu PF is desperate for a rushed and violence-driven election.

They know that people don’t like their policies of mass looting, corruption and greed. They know that they are way past their sell-by date.

They know that their stale diet of liberation war propaganda whilst the masses are starving has no takers anymore.

They are acutely aware of their democratic deficit and thus they know that like bacteria, they can only survive in an environment of dirt and germs.

They are scared of the people. Indeed, they are scared of transparency, accountability and integrity.

They do not want the people to see the huge skeletons in their cupboards.

As I have stated in previous articles, Zanu PF can never win a free and fair election in Zimbabwe. Never. Impossible.

Zimbabwe needs a free and fair election; not a repeat of the June 27, 2008 fiasco and bloodbath.

Obert Gutu is the MDC-T Senator for Chisipite in Harare

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