The tragedy which happened in Harare this week was not only completely unconscionable, but most preventable.
ECHOES CONWAY TUTANI
The State, on the one hand, should not have unleashed soldiers on the streets, resulting in six civilians being shot dead. I believe the situation could have been contained without firing live ammunition directly in crowded public spaces, where the possibility of innocent passers-by being caught in cross-fire is always high. Not only should the State be made liable, but the soldier/soldiers who fired the fatal shots should also be made personally and individually accountable.
MDC Alliance demonstrators — who were protesting over the alleged delay in the release of election results and alleged bias by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), on the other hand — should not have inflamed the situation.
I maintain that the tragedy was preventable had the MDC Alliance leadership heeded former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan’s wise counsel that political parties should seek legal recourse if they feel the electoral process is being violated. Annan, who is chairperson of the Council of Elders, an independent group of global leaders that work together for peace and human rights, said making unreasonable demands, including inciting the populace, had the potential to complicate the electoral process and yielding unforeseen outcomes.
I wrote an opinion piece published on March 23, 2018 titled Nation in serious need of pre-election counselling as signs were beginning to emerge that some political figures were not factoring in the real possibility of loss that every contestant faces, completely ruling out the possibility of defeat. I suggested that wise and cool heads like Father Fidelis Mukonori and other level-headed people give pre-election counselling to ALL the political contestants so that they prepare for any outcome or exigency and not be caught completely by surprise like the now mournful former President Robert Mugabe.
MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa had claimed before the elections that Zec officials told the MDC Alliance during a meeting that the electoral body received orders from President Emmerson Mnangagwa (commonly referred to as ED) not to compromise on the issue of the contentious electoral reforms. “Zec (said) that Mnangagwa told them not to compromise over the matter,” claimed Chamisa. This is stretching credulity. It’s hard to believe that Zec would have openly said that even if they were in Mnangagwa’s pocket. But if you tell that to a mob, all hell breaks loose — and it did this week because they take whatever their leader says as the gospel truth.
Wrote journalist Elias Mambo: “You don’t publicly attack the referee of a match you are about to play and expect victory. Zec has its many flaws which should surely be addressed, but through the Electoral Act. The Judiciary has its own problems, but attacking it closes any doors for recourse. Now, whither Zimbabwean opposition?” Yes, will they turn to the same courts they have been attacking and disparaging left, right and centre? You don’t burn bridges like that.
But what has led to the MDC Alliance’s dismal loss in the parliamentary election? Well, I will let mostly disappointed, but honest and realistic MDC Alliance supporters have their say on that because I have been accused of being an EDiot, not that such slander worries me but to show that non-EDiots also share the common views with me.
Wrote one Mhofu Chaiyo: “If only we were an honest and really literate nation, we should all have seen this coming! We can be so pathetically misled by individuals at the expense of processes! The MDC scripted its dismal performance by mismanaging their leadership succession issues, in the process elbowing their mature and sober members out of the mainstream of the party. Their campaign strategy of using social media to post urban rally photos clearly was not going to yield any meaningful results because a simple mind would notice that most urban youths are not of any fixed abode, hence never registered to vote. For once, I recognise Prof Jonathan Moyo for saying, “Harare is not Zimbabwe!” Clearly urban areas are not Zimbabwe. The MDC Alliance should have acknowledged the factual demographics of the country, but they never did!
Observed Ronald Tapfuma Jongwe: “It can only not be facade if the rigging accusations are backed by evidence. For now, it looks like the MDC Alliance is shooting in the dark, the talk of 21% of polling stations not displaying the V11 forms (showing the breakdown of results) is not going anywhere beyond the 21%, we need to know these polling stations and compare with the V11 copies that our agents have. Personally, I have accepted defeat and I think the party needs to invest more in structures that start from grassroots and also coin our message so that it resonates with the rural voter. Perhaps promises of airstrips, bullet trains and wi-fi connectivity did not quickly acquiesce with the rural folk.”
Remarked Tanyanyiwa Mugwiji: “Rhetoric without evidence is just noise. The opposition has not even challenged a single result of all the parliamentary elections that have been announced, either at the electoral court, or reporting fraud. They have not shown the evidence even on social media.”
Wrote Maxwell Saungweme: “Our rural people are rational. They know what they want. They work hard on the land to make a living. They vote for what they want. They are not on social media where we make noise. They don’t grace urban rallies. Don’t insult them. We fail to understand them. It’s our fault.”
Indeed, rural people have a practical and pragmatic outlook, unlike urban youths who are often overfed on negativism — the tendency to be negative in attitude while failing to offer positive suggestions — by opposition parties, leading them to leave their destiny in the hands of the party or party leader, which, of course, is self-delusory.
Groundbreaking journalist Geoffrey Nyarota observed that MDC Alliance was being misled by individuals from academia which it called upon as its advisers, but whose judgment was clouded by their own personal issues to grind with Zanu PF. Nyarota quoted a foreign diplomat as saying: “With regard to Ibbo Mandaza’s prognosis or predictable clairvoyance, they are both predicated on his well-known hostility towards the ruling party after he changed allegiance.” Nyarota then said: “Mandaza’s facetious predictions of an easy MDC victory appear to be motivated more by his own wishful expectations than by a genuine and honest assessment of the present-day political landscape. The opposition is well-advised not to be lulled into a false sense of security.”
Baba Fi observed among others the reasons for the defeat: Power grab at the expense of a congress, thereby splitting the party and votes; lack of respect for the people’s will as expressed in November 2017 (when Mugabe was ousted) by engaging Mugabe; failure to recruit and create a database of supporters with the view of ensuring that every known supporter registers as a voter; failure to appreciate and articulate practical solutions to pertinent issues, to the electorate; Chamisa’s political immaturity and reckless arrogance; and working on assumptions, stereotyping (such as mocking ED’s supporters as ”EDiots”, adapted from the word “idiot”) and overconfidence.
That’s how the MDC Alliance paid the price of underestimating so-called EDiots.