Panicky Zanu PF in reset mode

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
ZANU PF party is tightening its “authoritarian capabilities” ahead of the 2023 elections to prevent a humiliating electoral defeat to the opposition, a local non-governmental organisation has claimed.

After the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) won 19 of the 28 contested Parliamentary seats in by-elections held two months after its formation, Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) says the ruling party was staring at the possibility of losing the general elections expected next year.

CCC also garnered 75 out of the 122 local authority seats while Zanu PF won the remainder.

ZDI’s latest report titled: Deterrent of the Zambian Precedent in Zimbabwe suggests that the opposition victory in Zambia’s elections last year was a wake-up call for Zanu PF.

“The electoral defeat of the ruling party in Zambia in 2021 has triggered the Zanu PF elite to intensify the building and strengthening of authoritarian

capability and resilience infrastructure. The current political economy has, therefore, been characterised by the deployment of strategies to deter the 2021 Zambian precedent and boost the Zanu PF regime’s staying power beyond 2023,” ZDI said.

“Zimbabwe is conceptualised as a competitive authoritarian regime that is neither in transition towards democratic breakthrough nor towards absolute autocracy. It is a deliberate mid-way regime with strong institutional safeguards to keep the system neither a democracy nor an absolute autocracy.”

ZDI said during its research, it established that the military was involved in the transition and electoral processes directly through deployment to suppress opposition mobilisation, deployment to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), and indirectly through Zanu PF.

“The centre of gravity in Zimbabwe’s competitive authoritarian regime is the military elite captured Zanu PF manipulating key democracy institutions, mainly Judiciary and Legislature, media and Zec. The capture of Zanu PF is historical and philosophical as it is heavily ring-fenced by four interrelated philosophical narratives that have made military involvement in electoral and transitional processes a practicable and inexorable culture in Zimbabwe.”

It said the feature of transition in Zimbabwe could not be thought of or conceptualised without paying attention to the role of the security forces in that transition, adding that Mnangagwa’s government had built its authoritarian resilience infrastructure.

Yesterday while addressing the ordinary session of the Zanu PF politburo and the central committee, Mnangagwa said his party structures from the grassroots were strong enough to ensure electoral victory in 2023.

“The growth of our support base in urban areas is on the right track, let us deploy responsive and people-centred multi-pronged mobilisation strategies to endear the urbanites. The various strategies must translate to Zanu PF votes at the 2023 harmonised general elections,” Mnangagwa said yesterday.

Political analyst Prolific Mataruse said: “The economy continues to cause headaches for policymakers in Zimbabwe and it’s correct for analysts to observe that the Zanu PF government is being restive, especially given a restless population.”

Another analyst Methuseli Moyo said: “President Mnangagwa himself has said that what happened in Zambia could not happen here. That declaration means he is determined to prevent it from happening, which is not wrong by the way. What would be wrong is to use foul means to achieve that objective.”

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