A LEGISLATOR has raised the spectre of bloodshed during primary elections to select candidates for both the ruling Zanu PF and opposition parties, but was hopeful that the general election would be relatively quieter.
by EVERSON MUSHAVA
Speaking at a Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) discussion on the forthcoming polls on Thursday, MDC proportional representation MP Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said stakes were very high and the current squabbling in political parties was indicative that the primary selection process would be bloodier than the national elections.
“It will be difficult to have serious primary elections at the moment, because we are going to have blood on the floor,” she said.
“If you listen to Zanu PF, despite the changes that have taken place in the party, there are series contestations within the party.
“The current sitting MPs feel threatened by the newcomers in the political field.
“The primary elections will be bloodier than the general election itself.
“It is exactly the same thing that I see in the opposition, again, the kind of fighting that we are beginning to see literally, the entire opposition politics is now dominated.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa this week said elections would be held in four or five months — although observers insist this would be in violation of the Constitution — setting the stage for parties to start holding their primaries.
Zanu PF, which seems quite stable, could also be facing some internal fissures with the recent axing of legislators believed to be aligned to the G40 faction.
Businessman and clergyman Shingi Munyeza opined that there would be no primary elections across the political divide ahead of the polls.
“We are five months away, there will be no primary elections,” he said, adding time was fast running out for parties to embark on the process ahead of the polls that Misihairabwi-Mushonga said would be aimed at legitimising Mnangagwa’s rule.
Lawyer and trade adviser to Mnangagwa, Petina Gappah, was at pains to defend the military intervention as a very “Zimbabwean outcome”, not a coup, saying she has never seen a coup that was celebrated locally and internationally.
Another lawyer and political analyst, Brian Kagoro, sprang to Misihairabwi-Mushonga’s defence, saying what happened in Zimbabwe was a coup, although it has been sanitised.
He said the coup was celebrated because Mugabe was now a nuisance locally and internationally and that would not take away the fact that he was removed through a coup.
“In The Gambia, they had one of the neatest coups that brought down Yahya Jammeh. It was celebrated but it was a coup,” he said.
“What happened in Zimbabwe was a coup. For example, we have in our villages, grown men raping underage girls. Under traditional arrangements, we quickly arrange a wedding because it is a shame to the family. Someone must get married.
“So what then happens, you come as human rights lawyer, saying violation of the rights of the child and the parent are now holding lobola and damages, and the problem you have is that, you sound irrelevant, was it rape or not? The fact of Zimbabwe is that it was a coup.”
Kagoro said Zimbabwe was in a crisis because there was now an appetite within the military class to intervene in politics each times they felt unhappy with the existing order.
“We have a crisis of the securocratic State that has managed to win a public relations political beauty pageant,” he said.
Kagoro was worried Mnangagwa had introduced many changes but remained quiet on electoral reforms and that the opposition was wasting time on minor issues ignoring pertinent political questions.
He warned Mnangagwa would suffer electoral defeat if he fails to address the Gukurahundi issue.
“There are many things that, in the long run, he will suffer for being one the greatest reformers, who never got to be elected,” Kagoro said.
Munyeza said voting would never be fair as long as there was intimidation from the army-backed Zanu PF.