Zimbabwe 2023 polls: Democracy for sale

The presidential race will be a crowded field after 11 candidates, including the exiled Saviour Kasukuwere, successfully filed their nomination papers.

AN imperfect stage is now set for Zimbabweans to elect new leaders after processes to confirm candidates for presidential, parliamentary and local government positions were concluded on June 21.

The presidential race will be a crowded field after 11 candidates, including the exiled Saviour Kasukuwere, successfully filed their nomination papers. The 2018 elections had a staggering 23 presidential aspirants.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the ripe age of 80 will be running for what should be his last term in office if he respects the Constitution.

He is certainly leaving nothing to chance judging by the amount of money he has poured into his campaign.

Besides Kasukuwere, the Zanu PF leader will have to contend with his fierce rival Nelson Chamisa whom he narrowly defeated in the disputed 2018 polls to avoid being a one-term president.

Some presidential hopefuls that entertained dreams of becoming the next occupants of No 1 Chancellor Avenue fell by the wayside at the last hurdle after they failed to raise the US$20 000 needed to appear on the ballot.

It will be a men-only affair after Lead president Linda Masarira and United Zimbabwe Alliance’s Elisabeth Valerio failed to make it.

There were similar stories of despair for aspiring Members of Parliament who were being charged US$1 000 by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and councillors who were expected to pay US$20 to contest the elections.

The nomination fees were exorbitant given the currency chaos and the ailing economy.

Money does not seem to be a problem for Zanu PF despite the public secret that the party is perennially broke.

All its known businesses are either bankrupt or have gone under, but the party has bought a staggering 800 cars for use by its candidates.

Obscene amounts of money have also been spent on campaign regalia and more will be thrown into advertising campaigns.

Zanu PF’s candidate lists for Parliament and council attracted businesspeople of questionable repute that have been throwing money around like confetti at a wedding.

These characters include Scott Sakupwanya in Harare’s Mabvuku and Esau Mupfumi in Mutare Central.

Sakupwanya featured in the Al Jazeera Gold Mafia documentary that exposed alleged looting of Zimbabwe’s gold at an industrial scale.

There are also gold barons that would be representing the party amid claims that they were imposed by the shadowy Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz), which is running Zanu PF’s 2023 election campaign.

Faz is believed to have links to the Central Intelligence Organisation and it oversaw the Zanu PF's chaotic primary elections held in March.

The amount of money that is being funnelled into this election campaign by the ruling party must worry all patriotic Zimbabweans because the source of the funding is at best opaque.

The suspicion is that some countries in Asia and Eastern Europe are oiling the Zanu PF campaign with their eyes firmly set on the country’s minerals such as lithium, diamonds and coal.

Perennial issues that blight Zimbabwe’s elections such as political violence, paucity of substantial issues that impact the ordinary person and rigging aside, money will be a big issue in these polls.

Money is being used to promote exclusionary politics as demonstrated by the high nomination fees.

The country’s natural resources are also being mortgaged for selfish ends.

Desperation for power retention must not be at the expense of future generations.

Mnangagwa must take responsibility for opening the door for dirty money to further stain local politics. This appears to be a big part of Mnangagwa’s legacy.

  • Kholwani Nyathi is editor-in-chief of Alpha Media Holdings and editor of The Standard.


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