The recent ruling by the Constitutional Court (Concourt) regarding the deadline for the holding of the next harmonised elections has again brought to the surface what’s fundamentally wrong about the conduct of politics in this country.
First, this was supposed to be a consensual process in the letter and spirit of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), especially inclusivity as spelt out in that accord. But it has ended up a litigious process with President Robert Mugabe, paradoxical as it is that he was the first respondent in the case, immediately and enthusiastically embracing the decision and pledging to abide by it.
A process like this needed as broad a consensus as possible. It was supposed to be people-driven — through the three main political parties who are signatories to the GPA: the MDCs and Zanu PF — not court-driven, as has happened, after obstacles were deliberately thrown in the way to ensure the game-changing election roadmap would not see the light of day. The scheme was to ensure the polls would be held under the same uneven playing field which has favoured Zanu PF and massively disadvantaged the opposition. All the past deliberate delays and filibustering point to that.
This amounts to pulling the cart before the horse. Nothing substantial has changed, so it would be most unwise for the MDCs to be rushed into such polls where they are guaranteed to lose.
Second, the Concourt ruling and the poll roadmap are not mutually exclusive. If anything, they should reinforce each other. As South African President Jacob Zuma, the Sadc-appointed mediator, has rightly pointed out, the Concourt ruling or not, the agreed poll roadmap still has to be adhered to.
But some political schemers have seen this as an opportunity to completely throw out the roadmap. While Sadc must not let them get away with this deception, it is incumbent upon Zimbabweans themselves to make it loud and clear that enough is enough. The expensive, cynical political games can’t go on forever.
Third, Zimbabweans must also not be fooled by the roping-in of some high-profile individuals to give this political deception some respectability. Evangelical Bishop Trevor Manhanga comes to mind. A few years ago, he had a seemingly national healing project called The Zimbabwe We Want, but it got nowhere because it was mainly to endorse the political status quo. There were a few takers.
Now he is back again saying all parties must “walk the talk” and support the court ruling in toto when it is clear that the response must at the very least be two-pronged — the Concourt ruling and roadmap must be operative or operational side by side. It’s as simple as that. So Manhanga is clearly offside on that one.
We will reiterate: The Concourt ruling and the election roadmap are not mutually exclusive. They are both valid and, therefore,
simultaneously functional. One is not a substitute for the other, period.