July 30 elections: Will the will of the people slay Goliath?

A few weeks ago, a colleague, who was not registered to vote, told me he thought voting was a pointless exercise. He strongly believed that the new administrators would not relinquish power if they lost in elections due in two months.

By NQABA MATSHAZI

His reasoning was that there was no way the military and those newly in the corridors of power could have worked so hard to remove Robert Mugabe only to rule for eight or so months.

He was convinced that even if Zanu PF were to lose elections, they would not hand over power and predictably raised the spectre of 2008, when Mugabe remained at the helm, in spite of losing elections.

In a meeting, someone who I know supports MDC-T, was also not convinced Zanu PF would not hand over power in the event they lost elections.

I told them that what they could do was to cast their votes for their chosen candidates, as this was the only variable they can control.

If Zanu PF were to refuse to hand over power in the event they lost, then that would be another issue, which, at the moment, is out of their control.

I thought of the Gambian elections, where voters in the last election chose their candidates using marbles instead of conventional ballot papers, but they were still brave enough to vote for the candidate of their choice.

Yahya Jammeh had been in power for eons and the odds were that he would not lose or if he lost, he would not hand over power.

But Gambians did not let that perturb them, as they went on to vote for Adama Barrow.

So bad was Jammeh’s defeat that — probably in confusion — he conceded defeat, but when he gathered his wits, he tried to subvert the will of the people by refusing to accept he had lost.


Imagine if the Gambians had been defeatist and said there was no point in voting, Jammeh, a long time dictator, would still be in power to this day.

Jammeh had been in power for 22 years and his continued reign was taken for granted by many, but the results in that country shocked many people, because Gambians refused to be cowed by circumstances and insisted on voting for a candidate of their choice.

They did not bother worrying what Jammeh’s response would be in the event that he lost elections, but they just did what they thought was right.

The will of the people was not to be subverted.

Then there are those that believed that the elections will be rigged, or as we say in Zimbabwe, Nikuved.

In 2013, there were claims that ink disappeared from ballot papers if someone voted for the opposition, quite fantastical claims it seemed at that time.

It seems in Ukraine in 2004, the exact same thing happened and ink disappeared from ballot papers each time voters voted for the opposition.

But despite this, the opposition won and the incumbent was booted out after the mystery of the blank ballot papers had been solved.

Back to the Zimbabwean situation, I feel there is a lot of fear mongering ahead of these elections meant to create despondency, with most of it being subtle.

What this could lead to eventually is apathy from opposition supporters, as they believe that their votes will ultimately not count and this will play right into Zanu PF’s hands.

Last week, two issues dominated conversations, the first being Finance deputy minister Terrence Mukupe’s remarks that the military would not let MDC-T leader, Nelson Chamisa take over power in the event he won elections.

Mukupe denied the utterances and the government issued a stinging response to the deputy minister’s statement.

The second was from Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Josaya Hungwe, who pretty much said what Mukupe said, but this time I have not seen a government response to those utterances.

What these statements seem to infer is that there is no point in voting in the next elections, as the military, not Zimbabweans, has the final say on who gets to run the country.

I am being a sceptic here, but this reinforces my belief that the ruling party is now beginning to invest in opposition apathy rather than their own capacity to win an election.

Even after Mukupe’s rebuke, his statements may have already sent the intended message and that is to instil fear and a feeling of hopelessness in opposition supporters.

What the opposition need to do now is to ensure that their supporters are not disheartened and they turn out in numbers.

Even when the odds look insurmountable, they have to ensure that as many people as possible turn out for voting, as this will make the cost of rigging very high and will dissuade any potential fraudsters.

The same strategy relates to the question of whether the military will accept an opposition victory.

If the margin of victory for the opposition is very big, then it will take someone very brave or stupid to go against the people.

Insistence on being part of the ballot paper tendering and printing process is a start, as this will help stave off the Ukranian scenario where ink disappeared from ballot papers.

The opposition need to be unyielding in demands to have a forensic audit of the voters’ roll and if need be, they have to take a sample of the people that are registered and follow up to see if these are real people.

There are many ways the opposition can do this, but the ultimate goal is to make rigging quite expensive and an unattractive proposition.

Last year, when the military helped topple Mugabe, they seemed to be groping from one strategy to the next, trying to walk a fine constitutional tightrope, but when the people went out into the streets, Mugabe knew his goose was cooked.

While there is real fear that the next elections may not reflect the wishes of the people, it is imperative that the opposition urge their supporters to go out and vote in their numbers.

There should always be a message of hope, to counter despondency – that in the end, the will of the people will prevail and Goliath will be slain.

Feedback: nmatshazi@southerneye.co.zw Twitter @nqabamatshazi

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19 Comments

  1. some pieces in the article resonate with sense and yes there is no way Goliath will be slain never ever and back to the article yes you cannot invest in so much courage to remove the feared nongenarian only to be in power for a pittance 8months and thats very very correct but the only difference is that the povo believe in this new dispensation and there will get the votes genuinely and lambast the young moustached guy.

    1. Point of Correction there MR. There is no new dispensation in Zim, its still the same zanu that Mugabe led, with same Ministers and same policies which disastrous to the Zimbabwean society. Changing the bus driver doesn’t mean you are now in a new bus or going a different direction Eliasha.

  2. Comment…ed must be punished to work with Mugabe for 50yrs without complaining and advice him to perform gukurahundi and murambatsvina and help him to rig elections, he take ppl for granted .dai Mugabe akamupa chigaro angadai asina kuita coup ,he rely heavily on military and turn to the ppl to justify his deeds .he promise to arrest all the criminals but only few were arrested and kasukuwere is back no arrest vanozivana ,he take ppl for granted ….don’t ever take ed serious wants winning election muchaona kuti he is like Mugabe expect cash crisis ,more pot holes ,zero employment and more corruption .

  3. Entertaining article. Well done.
    When the time to leave the paper comes one day, you can write scripts for something on DStv channel 301, where you only have villains vs good guys.
    As the reality starts to gnaw into activists posing as journos, we see their sweat dripping, their huffing and puffing getting heavier.
    May the entertainment continue.

  4. Eagle's eye & baboon's ears

    Chamisa will win this election without doubt

  5. As one those who has steadfastly held the view (since 2008) that ZANU PF cannot be voted out in any election that they themselves supervise, I would like for the very first time to encourage people to register and to vote. Here’s why…

    The presidential outcome has most likely already been pre-determined. However, after the last 2 years, many ZANU PF parliamentarians must have experienced whiplash – swinging between Mujuru to G40 to Lacoste. So who (ED included) really knows who stands where anymore? I am predicting a reverse “bhora musango.” President guaranteed, parliament (like the primaries) anybody’s guess. Go and vote, focusing on the best individual MPs, whichever party! We will at least be able to construct the new parliament, and so begin the next stage of transformation – the presidency.

  6. I agree with you absolutely on the reverse “bhora musango” theory, but would like to add another dimension about the main position party. There will be “bhora musango” as well by mainstream MDC – T supporters who feel they are being forced to vote for unpopular candidates from Alliance partners’ . The MDC Alliance is such a disaster. Just to prove a point, the Alliance partners’ candidates should have participated in primaries with the mainstream MDC-T candidates! The result was going to be that even Biti was not going to sail through. This just shows that the so-called Alliance adds no value to the opposition cause. It will therefore be a hung Parliament

    1. Both the two leading presidential candidates will need a strong parliament to counter their points of weakness. The one candidate has an unimpressive record and is authoritarian; the other is a populist with little experience in governing. The last thing we need, whichever one wins, is a docile parliament full of yes men/women. My suggestion is: vote for your preferred party presidential candidate (as I said above, it probably won’t determine the winner)… but choose the strongest candidate for parliament (and council), even if it means that in your particular constituency your have to vote for an independent (be it a victim of primaries’ chicanery) or even someone from the opposite party. Let us put country before party, if we want progress after the 2018 elections.

  7. The unpalatable truth is that Zimbabwe has been under military rule since 1980. Zimbabwe’s top military bra*s is all from ZanuPf. I have said this for decades. Elections in the past were just done perfunctorily to confirm Mugabe’s stay in power. You saw that in 2008.
    There was a military coup in November 2017. What Zimbabwe has now is a continuation of the past set up albeit this time it is more pronounced after the cou*.
    Opposition parties should have threatened to boycott the elections until ZanuPf was excluded from participating in civilian elections. This was never going to happen because the opposition is full of power-hungry jobseekers. If the junta loses then there will be another GNU with Mnangagwa as President and Khupe as PM or Chamisa.

  8. My comments are being barred by Newsday editor – confirm you are now part of Zimpapers which owns the Herald and Sunday Mail for ZanuPf.

    1. Mine too.. poof, there goes freedom of expression

  9. My comments are being barred by Newsday editor – confirm you are now part of Zimpapers which runs the Herald and Sunday Mail for ZanuPf.

  10. Your guess is as good as mine Musona. I have persistently observed the same problem and wondered if it has any political inclination whatsoever. My six attempts to post my comment on this forum has hit a snag. I suffered the same fate last Monday after ten more trials were rejected. Newsday, you can do better than this. These are just opinions devoid of any seditious material.

  11. My comments are being barred by Newsday editor – confirm you are now part of Zimpapers which runs the Herald and Sunday Mail for ZanuPf.

  12. ini ndinovhotera opposition, whether alliance member or what i dont care who the person is from, as long there is a hand and the MDC alliance name on that person thats where i put my X. so Bhora musango is unlikely ku opposition cz the name that u carry matters. ZANU PF is the nightmare. kana Munangagwa akabereka ruoko rwe Chinja aiwa vhoti yangu paari ngaa.

  13. Handife ndakavhotera zanu,ngaiyende this tym inoenda tafa nenhamo

  14. Kuwiriranakwakanakakugarakunzwanana Garanewakomurudohamandishe

    Comment…Ko vana vechikorozve?

  15. A well articulated piece, the chances are slim to see the terrorist backed regime handing over power with the knowledge that they will never rule again. Never.

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