AMERICAN think tank Freedom House, the Afro Barometer, Zimbabwe’s Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) and Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) have inadvertently poured oxygen in Robert Mugabe’s deadly fire of electoral optimism.
Column with Rejoice Ngwenya
Call it bravado, a nocturnal whistle in the graveyard or misplaced schoolboy enthusiasm — Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu PF) dream of a decisive parliamentary and presidential majority come election 2013.
What makes this “prophetic hallucination” bitter sweet is that accolades are emanating from Zanu PF’s “habitual skeptics”.
In African tradition — when your enemy praises you, either you are exceptionally good or he wants to anaesthetise you into a false sense of security. They do that all the time in the English Premier Soccer League.
Before a massive Manchester derby, City’s Roberto Mancini will heap praises on United’s Sir Alex Ferguson. On paper, Zanu PF looks formidable.
Former South African president Thabo Mbeki’s crude General Political Agreement in 2008 allowed Mugabe’s camp to regroup.
Now they have the entire public media, all electoral laws and the relevant institutions that administer “electoral justice” on their side. Political reforms prescribed by the Global Political Agreement and Sadc’s electoral Road Map have been physically blocked by Zanu PF legislators. All military and security institutions ie army, police, prison, intelligence and militias — profess support for Mugabe.
Ninety nine point nine percent of Zimbabwe’s judiciary is administered by Zanu PF cronies, while electoral, media and security laws are biased towards and administered by Zanu PF. The Sadc itself — save for Ian Khama (Botswana) and Joyce Banda (Malawi) — is more sympathetic to Mugabe’s “revolutionary credentials” than to MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirayi or Welshman Ncube.
The African Union is a perennial toothless bulldog that has closed its eyelids to the cause of Zimbabwe’s over-due democratisation. So what chance do MDCs have against Zanu PF?
Mugabe is the first to admit that his party’s primary elections, internal succession wars, factional conflicts in Manicaland and Bulawayo are debilitating.
MDCs must insist Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede be taken off the voters’ registration process. He is accused of bussing members of the security sector to register as voters in some constituencies viewed as key in order to neutralise MDCs stranglehold in the areas.
Mugabe’s electoral date ambush must be rejected while institutional and legislative reforms aligned to constitutional clauses have to be completed before Parliament lapses.
If Zimbabwe requires UN electoral assistance, MDCs must insist on Tadjoudine Ali Diabacte’s UN Electoral Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) returning to Zimbabwe plus UN/EU and civil society election observers.
I am not a convert of a pre-presidential runoff electoral pact. MDC-T municipal corruption and Tsvangirai’s women “scandals” are poison to the unified MDC brand.
Ncube’s calls for devolution will eliminate Zanu PF’s influence in Matabeleland, Midlands, Masvingo and Manicaland, while Tsvangirai must do more to castigate Mugabe for Gukurahundi, the DRC war, land expropriation, Murambatsvina, 2008 murders and mines plunder.
Pro-democracy civil society groups must expose Zanu PF’s lies on “housing cooperatives” and insist on continuing to work in communities. They should take the fight of freeing the airwaves to Sadc, including boycotts of companies that advertise on Zanu PF controlled media like ZBC, the Herald, the Chronicle and Star FM.
Zanu PF, despite calling for peace, will employ dirty tricks to cheat in the elections. However, MDCs must break their proverbial backs to ensure every citizen above 18 years of age is registered to vote.
Forget fancy manifestoes and “star” rallies, ensure every polling station has an MDC agent, monitor and observer to guarantee the “security” of each MDC vote.