LAST Friday was to all intents and purposes, as bleak as a Black Friday. Flags might as well have flown at half-mast. As Chief Justice Luke Malaba delivered the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruling on the presidential election petition, the atmosphere was direly sombre.
Guest column: Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana
One could tell by glancing at people as they went about their chores that they were laden with anxiety. It was not only a feeling of calm before the storm, but sedateness in citizenry across social lines. Indeed, the storm came in the form of the presidential petition ruling.
“The application is dismissed with costs … Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is duly declared the winner of the presidential elections held on the 30th of July 2018,” Justice Malaba said in his ruling. Never has there been a sentence that drenched the citizenry as this one.
In April, the ConCourt had also dismissed another electoral application in which Zimbabweans in the Diaspora had sought to exercise their right to vote. They petitioned for an amendment to provisions of the Electoral Act to allow them to vote from their respective host countries.
Also, several parliamentary elections have also been likewise dismissed, thereby fanning the flames of doubt and suspicion on the independence of the judiciary. It is believed that the judiciary is compromised subsequent to the Mnangagwa sponsored amendment to the Constitution last year on a section that pertains to the judiciary appointment procedures.
Long before voting day in the harmonised elections last month, there had been a steadily escalating sense of uneasiness building up in the minds of citizenry. Although people thronged to the polls, premonitions of electoral impropriety were casting dark shadows.
Even the declared elections winners, Zanu PF and its presidential candidate, Mnangagwa, also embedded the gloomy feeling. When initially announced as the winners with a parliamentary majority, they were uncharacteristically modest in their victory.
Ironically, Mnangagwa was quick to extend a hand to MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, saying that they could build the country together. For once since his ascendancy to power, he departed from his notion that his Zannu PF party would rule despite the wailing of the opposition.
Ordinarily, Zanu PF could have scratched the roof of the sky in jubilation. Yet, they did not receive the victory news with their customary bragging. For a party that never misses an opportunity to grandstand, the humility it shown was unimaginably out of sync with their trademark ebullience.
However, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is of the conviction that the harmonised elections perpetuated the credibility crisis, noting that the processes through which Mnangagwa was elected was fraught with irregularities.
With the die now cast, it suffices to state that despite being declared the winner, Mnangagwa is hugely destitute of legitimacy. As I see it, management of elections was such a debacle that he inevitably has a deficiency on credibility.
His victory is clocked in a shroud of anomalies such that the elections cannot be said that they were, in spirit and letter, free, fair and credible. It is an open secret that he derived his main impetus from the wings of State institutions partisanship, including the military.
When heavy weaponry was rolled into Harare last November to depose former President Robert Mugabe, the bullet henceforth assumed superiority over the ballot. And, by cheering the military intervention fall of Mugabe, the opposition, in its folly, said amen to a bad omen.
Since then, there is evidence galore that Zimbabwe suffered the proverbial fall from the frying pan into the fire; from civilian autocratic rule to full-fledged military rule. With all due respect, anyone who disputes the dawn and entrenchment of military rule is something else.
It was a rude awakening to the reality of military rule when boots once again trooped out of the barracks and gunned down civilians in the aftermath of the harmonised elections. Ironically, Mnangagwa could only whimper promises to institute a commission of inquiry.
It is an established norm that the military the world over is regimented. It adheres to a cast in concrete operating standard procedure.
It is unprecedented for the hierarchy to profess ignorance of the deployment of the unit that marauded in pursuit of innocent civilians.
As I see it, whoever it is that attributed the killings to rogue soldiers sank to the lowest common denominator. That was a reckless suggestion, akin to saying that keys to the armoury are accessible to all rank and file, kept on a hook behind the door.
It is the responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces to deploy the military. Hence, it goes without mentioning that Mnangagwa is inexcusably liable for the gunning down of civilians. He is on the totem pole of the military; the buck stops with him.
As if the gunning down of demonstrators was not sufficiently unsavoury, the overall high-handedness towards the opposition was a nasty clampdown on freedoms of speech and association. Little wonder, some United States observer groups called on the military to refrain from use of force and the freeing of political space.
The ransacking of MDC Alliance offices and dogged pursuit of Tendai Biti brazenly affirmed the prevalence military rule.
Although the harmonised elections were held in a peaceful environment, the post election upheavals deprived Mnangagwa of presidential integrity.
Reports of electoral impropriety ranging from rigging, State institutions partisanship, double counting of votes, polling stations producing similar results and ghost polling stations rendered the harmonised elections a much ado about nothing costly exercise.
Mnangagwa’s oftentimes repeated calls for free, fair and credible elections were mere parroting. Despite the welcome of international observers, the bottom line is that Mnangagwa commences his tenure heavy laden with a credibility crisis. With the inauguration ceremony now done and dusted, whither to Mnangagwa? One thing that stood out like a beacon was his dire craving for legitimacy. As he read his congratulatory message from Mugabe, his hunger for affirmation was clear to all and sundry.
Although politics and economics are close cousins, the difference is that with the former, one can succeed by manipulation, with the latter, honesty and integrity are prerequisite. Given that Mnangagwa has a credibility deficit, no mantra will ever attract investment.
Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist.