SINCE the November coup, I had made a decision to revert to my domain — which is discussing how African countries can find ways to achieve development.
By Tapiwa Gomo
I retracted from political commentary because the presence of the military in what should be a civilian domain has contaminated our politics.
It displaced our faith in constitutionalism and revived our fears of militarisation of governance institutions.
Maybe, we need to accept that in our context, the bullet rules the ballot.
And our biggest battle should be to liberate ourselves from the gun and revert to constitutionalism and democracy.
Events of November last year showed that the gun decides and the nation gullibly fell for it and thought it was a first step towards the right direction.
And elections are just a regular public relations ritual conducted to appease the international community and secure legitimacy as they are not a source of political power.
Sometimes, I wonder how the political “excitable” will deal with the heartbreak of watching another election being stolen from under their noses.
The sad part of our situation is that change has happened, but it is not the change we wanted.
Nonetheless, the currency of the idea of change has diminished with the departure of former President Robert Mugabe and somewhat with the death of MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
It is now hard to convince people to vote for change because the political dynamics in the country have changed, but without changing the baselines.
There is still need for change — a people-driven change — one delivered through the ballot box and not the barrel of the gun.
Part of the nation is riding on the blind wish not based on merit, but morals that the change delivered through the ballot will take the country to the promised land.
It is a gamble between hope and wish.
We can only hope elections will deliver the people’s choice and wish that change will take us to the promised land.
Either way, there are no guarantees.
Dictators have developed countries before, so did democrats.
The hopes and wishes are, however, dashed by the presence of the military.
They are a major player in the game and may be the main game-changer.
In such a highly militarised environment, one wonders how democracy can be achieved or whether we should even talk about it at all.
We are in a much tougher situation than the pre-coup era.
The million-dollar question is whether the military can push out their boss of 37 years and then easily accept defeat by the ballot.
Only time will tell.
It is similarly tough to withdraw from political commentary when discussing development.
The state of development of any country is a reflection of the policies and behaviour of its politics.
We are poorer than we were 20 years ago because of politics, just like pre-independence Zimbabwe had a strong economy because of some political decisions.
So, development and poverty are outcomes of politics.
We have been running politics of poverty over the past 20 years, which is why we have become an embarrassment in the region.
Over those two decades, we have manufactured specialist opposition leaders, who in their right hands carry the hopes of winning an election, while their left hands are full of excuses on why they lost elections.
On the other hand, the situation has nurtured electoral arrogance among those in power — one that “steals” the people’s vote and parks the opposition protest in their courts.
For these reasons, our electoral playing field has become topsy-turvy, the outcome of which are inconclusive election results — breeding ground for protracted political and economic instability.
There is no guarantee that the next election is going to be conclusive.
This is why some analysts are already selling the idea of a government of national unity based on the simple assumption that those in power will “steal” the election with a reasonable measure of dignity by giving the opposition a fabricated near-miss — one that entices the opposition to the table and co-opts them to glamourise the system’s image to their international clients.
In a context where the international community is fatigued by Zimbabwe’s political problems, any opposition protest will fall on deaf ears, the same way Mugabe’s calls for rescue went unnoticed.
The main question we should be grappling with is whether a government of national unity is good for the economy of or not.
Once we come to terms with that possible reality, maybe we can begin to see an end to this political tomfoolery that has demonised our progress.
In any case, achieving free and fair elections from a system that has just assumed power through a coup is an impossible venture.
But who knows?
Miracles can still happen.
To what extent is the current system willing to let go of power in the event of a defeat?
And to what extent is the opposition willing to accept defeat whether rigged or fairly beaten?
The answer to these questions holds the key to the country’s future.
Tapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa