THE most notable feature of a Zimbabwean election from 1980 right up to this day has been defined occurrences of political violence. The only difference has been that the political violence was more pronounced in the early 1980s and 1990s.
By Learnmore Zuze
The violence also became sounder with the emergence of the united Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai in 1999. The coming on to the scene of Tsvangirai sent Mugabe and Zanu PF in general panicking. It was reported that over 200 MDC supporters were killed in the election violence of 2000.
This was nothing new as it was given that Mugabe, cornered, would resort to brutalising opponents. Perhaps they would never be a more embarrassing show of violence as displayed by Mugabe in the 2008 June run off.
Mugabe, having lost to Tsvangirai in the first round of elections, went about spilling blood in a bid to cow people into voting for him. And true, Tsvangirai eventually pulled out of the run off, making Mugabe a winner in the sham poll.
Violence was and remains the most blatant and unintelligent way of rigging an election in Africa. From the 1980s to this day, Zimbabweans were very much alive to this barbaric way of rigging that dominated most rural areas and some towns.
However, going back into the 1980s, no one ever knew or in the very least suspected that rigging could be done on ballot paper. It was the least of suspected things. It remains a wonder how Mugabe, formerly a darling of many in 1980, won any election from the year 2000 going upwards. Mugabe had become an immensely unpopular leader at the turn of the century, with his chaotic land reform programme.
Mugabe became despised within his own country as well as by the international community. His own people loathed him for the poverty and hunger he brought upon his own nation.
The international community hated him for his acid tongue and disregard for international rules. It even became clear that many within his circles had also long-waited for his departure following his ouster last year.
But the question still troubled many: How did Mugabe win elections in 2000 running up to the time of his last election in 2013? People would look at each other in wonderment how the highly unpopular ruler remained in power long after losing the people’s hearts.
It was a phenomenon never known before; no one ever gave it a thought but as years progressed, Zimbabweans became alive to the possibility of a very nasty truth. The unpleasant reality was that the election was hardly taking place in the political campaigns in the streets and stadiums.
The election results were not being decided in the spirited door to door campaigns. Zimbabweans slowly began to notice something deeply amiss at every presidential race. The outcome was always as puzzling as it didn’t make sense.
Surely, if there is any time in which Mugabe should have lost an election beyond any shadow of doubt it was in 2013 when he had, again, brought down an economy that had improved during the government of national unity (GNU).
Mugabe proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he had no answers to Zimbabwean solutions yet, when it came to the grand moment of the 2013 election, he beat Morgan Tsvangirai with a larger margin. Theories abound of Zanu PF being resurgent, but the truth of the matter to every person gifted with political insight was that Mugabe could never win in a free and fair election.
Naturally, this led to people, investigating what could be happening. For the first time, Zimbabweans learnt that there was something called ballot paper rigging.
For the first time we heard of the dirty work done by some dubious Nikuv company during election time. The truth of what could have possibly happened over the years dawned slowly on Zimbabweans.
Surely, Mugabe despised by his own people, was certainly playing some tricks during election time. The trouble, however, lay with evidence; there simply was no evidence of the alleged rigging. It could be seen that rigging had taken place, but no one had the evidence.
Tsvangirai himself the main leader of the opposition came to the point of death with a number of cases pending in court where he alleged rigging but still could not prove it. To this day, Zimbabweans have become so awake to rigging.
Yesterday’s election is solid proof that Zimbabweans will no longer take any suspicious conduct lying down. People took their own pens and pencils. People refused to be intimidated.
This is the right spirit that enveloped the country. May the Zimbabwean spirit prevail as we await the ultimate result. Zimbabweans must win not any other thing.
Learnmore Zuze is a law officer and writes in his own capacity. E-mail email@example.com