Elections and arrested development

Once again the election debate hogs the limelight. There are sections of society who have suddenly developed a huge appetite for elections.

While we are all aware that we are in a coalition arrangement because of a disputed or inconclusive election, one wonders what agenda sustains the renewed calls for elections.

Don’t you think this offers us a good chance to learn to work together as coalition governments may as well be the future way of doing government business?

Perhaps we may as well stop taking the current government as a temporary measure, but the real deal. It is a fact that Zanu PF and the MDC formations are government right now and not a dream.

Elections and their ensuing consequences have destroyed our country, taking so many lives and arrested our national development.

But, of course, there are some who are hungry for elections.

One of the negotiators, Patrick Chinamasa, thinks it is not possible to hold elections before 2013 judging by the requirements of the Sadc roadmap.

Rugare Gumbo, the Zanu PF spokesperson, thinks elections should be held as soon as possible and no reasons are given for this sudden urge for polls.

In fact, he trashes Chinamasa’s assessment of the situation as a personal opinion. I find it personally hard to ignore this man, a man who has been at the forefront of the negotiations.

And perhaps a man who has breathed life into an institution that was almost discredited to the political doldrums.

And MDC-T thinks it will be early next year (2012) or something like that. It sounds like one of those self-deprecating banters.

And that’s my Zimbabwe.

Wait a minute. Jonathan Moyo is speaking. In his recent opinion editorial he suggests that elections should be held now or by 2016.

He argues that we need to “get out of a debilitating and indeed destructive election mode by holding the next harmonised general election either this year to usher in a government
. . . or in 2016 in order to settle things now and enable the country to focus on public service delivery and economic recovery over the next five years without the threat of electoral destabilisation . . .”

There is wisdom in the Professor’s thinking. While Chinamasa’s argument is anchored more on logistical issues preceding elections, the Professor is thinking economic development.

Surprised? He acknowledges that election mode is destructive and should either be dealt with now or in the next five years.

His proposals are well calculated. The first one is in line with Rugare Gumbo’s thinking or the broader Zanu PF position.

His second proposal is good for the country, in my view, as we need to give our country time to rebuild before another destructive election.

2016 is, indeed, ideal for everyone especially business as there is no guarantee that the next election will be conclusive and undisputed.

But I am not sure if the Professor is reading from the same page as his party colleagues.

Holding elections in 2016 may complicate things a tad if you add five years on everyone currently occupying leadership positions in the government.

Let’s say elections are held in 2016 as suggested by the Professor, is Zanu PF prepared to deploy a 92-year-old candidate for a five or six-year presidential term?

Well, I don’t know. From what we know, it is the presidential election that was disputed and one wonders what is behind the calls for harmonised early elections.

Perhaps, to win a majority by all means possible so they can take control over and manage the thorny succession debate at both party and national level.

For now they don’t have full control at national level.

Enough of that. It seems we are spoilt for choice as it seems Zimbabwe can hold elections any time between now and 2016.

They can be held this year because Gumbo’s Zanu PF wants them now for strategic reasons, in 2012 because that’s how MDC see things panning out, in 2013 because Chinamasa thinks that’s when the country would have achieved all the reforms as required by Sadc roadmap or in 2016 to allow the country breathing space as suggested by the Professor.

Which investor would throw his capital in such an uncertain and murky situation?

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