THREE months after Zimbabwe held its ninth elections since independence in 1980, the country will again head for polls in a mini, but decisive vote occasioned by a very bizarre turn of events when — out of the blue — some self-proclaimed interim secretary-general of the main opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), Sengezo Tshabangu recalled more than a dozen elected legislators and councillors.
Curiously, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose ruling Zanu PF party failed to obtain a two-thirds majority in Parliament, was super quick to declare by-elections in the affected constituencies and wards.
Tshabangu simply colour-photocopied the politically late MDC leader Douglas Mwonzora’s template which successfully turned the country’s Ninth Parliament into one massive circus. The two men have, to all intents and purposes, turned the 43-year-old Zimbabwe into a very funny teething democracy.
Now the country is being made to waste precious resources re-running elections when hospitals lack the simplest of drugs which include painkillers which can be obtained at a ghetto tuckshop.
Many ministries such as the Health and Child Care ministry recently told us that they are in a serious financial bog because Treasury is short-changing them, yet here we are affording to sponsor self-aggrandising projects which effectively worsen our plight as a people.
Honestly, can Zimbabwe really afford to entertain these not so funny resource-wasting antics?
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The last time opposition Members of Parliament were recalled, the party which recalled the MPs and the ruling party — which gleefully hoped to grab the seats — ate humble pie after losing the seats. And it comes as a real scandal that the same thing is being repeated in the latest recalls.
Are the December 9, 2023 by-elections really necessary?
What is most painful is that the majority of these by-elections are taking place in Bulawayo, the capital city of the Matabeleland region which has carried the heaviest burden of underdevelopment, prompting the area to religiously protest by voting for the opposition in many previous elections?
So will the recalls change the people of Bulawayo’s mindset, especially when some unknown person single-handedly disrespects their ballot by withdrawing their chosen candidates from Parliament?
Tshabangu pulled out a really wild card which has turned our democracy on its head. Zimbabwe is now the subject of ridicule. The people of Bulawayo and, indeed, the entire Matabeleland region, sadly cannot protest over unfair treatment by individuals and government because the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s still rekindle harrowing memories.
Zimbabwe is, indeed, a funny democracy where individuals can shamelessly disrespect majority decisions to the point that even the courts pander to the whims of these wayward characters.
In not so funny democracies those people whose ballots have been violated and disrespected should have been allowed to protest. But not in Zimbabwe, and especially in Matabeleland, there is no such fat chance because they risk being clobbered or even killed for exercising their democratic right.
These continued recalls and subsequent by-elections are effectively sounding the death knell to our tender democracy, which will only serve to embitter many citizens who are increasingly becoming disillusioned that the tenets of constitutionalism will ever be respected in this very funny democracy.