By Cyprian M Ndawana
DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa,
Your Excellency, it is evident that the events leading to the just-ended by-elections were a bold statement that our democracy is poisoned. It is blighted by a monstrous tyranny. As I see it, our brand of politics is regressive. We are not able to conduct credible, free and fair elections under this climate.
It is incumbent upon citizenry to work with determination towards the adoption of a democratic culture. Essentially, democracy is not discriminatory. It cannot be given to some and denied others. Yet, that was the case during the campaign period.
Actually, that has long been the nature of our politics. It is devoid of civility. It is synonymous with Caesarian absolutism that has the hallmarks of Gukurahundi atrocities and August 1, 2018 shootings. It lacks basic ingredients of courtesy.
After the proclamation of the by-elections, State institutions, in particular the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, public media and the police became plainly partisan. They shut out the opposition as if it were an intruder.
I should underscore that when I refer to the opposition I do not include the contrived turncoats that have no mandate of citizenry. All those who chose the allure of comfort and convenience while citizenry wallow in dire circumstances fall outside my definition of opposition.
Your Excellency, while the police readily granted Zanu PF permission to hold campaign rallies, it was not so with the opposition. It met blatant repression. It was a struggle for the opposition to hold rallies. As an act of desperation and last resort, it made a series of urgent applications at the High Court.
Apparently, the opposition was denied coverage by the State media. There was a complete blackout on its activities in contravention of the law which stipulates that political parties must be given equal coverage in the public media.
As if that was not enough, the police frustrated its rallies by mounting obstacles galore for the opposition.
Its notifications for rallies were turned down or unreasonable conditions were imposed. It encountered the worst reception at each submission of notification to hold rallies.
A case in point was the imposition of repressive conditions which included a ban on bussing supporters and a maximum of three people in a car for the Zimbabwe Grounds rally.
Also, the Marondera venue was sealed off to prevent the holding of a rally which had been approved by the same police which cordoned off the ground. The Kwekwe rally, which witnessed the death of a CCC supporter, was the worst.
Truly, hostility towards the opposition was palpable. Yet, no such restrictions ever applied to the ruling party.
Besides the hassles of venue clearance, the threat of intrusion by the monstrous tyranny was omnipresent.
Your Excellency, the police force conducted itself with disdainful partiality. It blatantly discriminated against the opposition, contrary to its mandate of maintaining law and order impartially. It was not only biased, but aggressive and intimidatory. Chiefs were harassed too.
Reports of wanton arrests of opposition members, including candidates, do not speak of a level-headed police service that discharges its mandate without fear or favour. Frankly, the police partiality justifies the accursed reputation of government on the international arena.
It is a well-founded argument that the police claim of manpower shortage was meant to dampen the spirit of the opposition for the benefit of the ruling party.
Surely, the claim could not be parroted only when barring opposition rallies, while it never applied to Zanu PF.
Amazingly, the opposition could not be weakened. It carried out its mission with remarkable resolve and resilience. Its youthful leader, to his deserved credit, showed no signs of surrender in spite of all the obstacles.
He stood his ground in the face of a monstrous tyranny, most probably buoyed by the words of Apostle Paul: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that all surpassing power is from God, and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not abandoned … therefore, we do not lose hope.” 2 Corinthians 4:7:16.
With the by-election results in the public domain, as I see it, the most important objective must be mending our democracy. That will be the ultimate victory for citizenry. Granted, the road ahead will be long and hard, yet victory is worthy every toil.
Methinks probity prompts you to awaken from the folly of creating for yourself the opposition of your choice. Ideally, your starting point is the admission, in the inner chambers of your heart, that the formation of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) was an absurdity.
It must be dissolved, now. It is a pet peeve that does not deserve inclusion in the presidential diary. With all Polad members conspicuous by their absence from the by-elections, it goes without saying that they sufficiently exposed their insignificance.
Your Excellency, it is my fervent prayer that the monstrous tyranny will be exorcised from our politics. There is a compelling need for fundamental reforms to ensure the credibility of elections.
We have to commence discourse aimed at ensuring that the 2023 harmonised elections will be held in a cordial environment.
Ideally, the brutality of crushing people like lice for supporting a certain political party must stop. Also, State institutions must be independent, transparent and impartial, in word and deed. It is time we had an egalitarian society where no class feels entitled to rule.
Your Excellency, I entreat you to emulate Wilson Churchill. His wartime plea read: “I feel entitled at this juncture, at this time, to claim the aid of all and say to you, ‘Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength’.”
- Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist. He can be contacted on email firstname.lastname@example.org.