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Thursday, 1 March 2012

A Pen alone cannot remove Mugabe and ZANU PF out of power

By Blessing Vava

Of political comics and  elections
The late Edgar Tekere-led Z.U.M
Since independence Zimbabwe has conducted elections regularly, and in the first 20 years it was Robert Mugabe and his party ZANU PF who always emerged victors. With only some bit of challenge not serious though notably  from Edgar Tekere’s Zimbabwe Unity Movement, which again failed to claim a meaningful  chunk of the electorate.  ZUM, as it was known became a popular opposition party in Zimbabwe but many Zimbabweans never viewed its leader  Edgar Tekere as a serious politician who could steer the nation forward. Various parties also came but disappeared into oblivion, ZANU Ndonga, United Parties, also came ZUD, NAAG to mention but a few and they reduced  the national elections into a melo-drama.   These parties seemed clueless with no strategy on what they really wanted to achieve. Their participation was  therefore not taken seriously  by the electorate because voting for a party which only fielded candidates in towns would not bring meaningful change to the country’s political landscape. What it meant was that all the other seats already would be won without any contest, thereby putting ZANU PF on the lead before the actually day of voting.

The workers party
But as Mugabe’s popularity  waned, mainly  because of bad economic policies, saw the emergence of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), a product of the working class, students and social movements who launched the party in September 1999 at Rufaro Stadium. The same stadium where 19 years earlier, the infamous Union Jack (British flag) had been brought down to pave way for the hoisting of the new colourful  Zimbabwean flag, thereby declaring Zimbabwe’s independence.
President Mugabe casting a ballot in an
an election pitting himself as the candidat
in June 2008
Power does not come on a silver plate
Tsvangirai backtracked from
claiming his victory
 The emergence of the MDC in Zimbabwe’s political landscape worked a lot to restore confidence in the electorate. Mainly because the MDC  had a clear manifesto articulating the aspirations of  the poor and the working class and also that they managed to present a national outlook unlike the other opposition parties in the yesteryears. That is why barely a year after its formation, and for the first time for an opposition party  fielding  candidates in all the country’s 120 constituencies they scooped  57 seats of the 120, with ZANU PF getting 63 seats. An indication that indeed they were sincere about removing ZANU PF from the echelons of power.

The parliamentary result shocked Mugabe, and he subsequently  launched a violent campaign in 2002 during the presidential election. The 9 March 2002 poll, which was  disputed  with allegations of massive rigging was eventually won by Robert Mugabe by 56.2%, with Tsvangirai polling 42.0 %. With all the executive powers, and a flawed constitution  Mugabe manipulated the electoral process to his favour because the commission running the election were his appointees who reported to him.

Mugabe's security-We will not Salute a president with
no war credentials

No War history , NO SALUTE
The security forces continue  assisting ZANU PF every time the country goes for an election. Despite soldiers being physically deployed in various parts of the country to intimidate civilians, the military chiefs have also come out in the open declaring that they will not accept a leader who did not participate in the liberation struggle. Therefore any result not in favour of Mugabe or a ZANU PF candidate would not be accepted by the security forces and will result in a coup de tat. The same also goes with the public media, being some of the institutions that the party has been using to its advantage during the times of election.  

The backtracker...’kuState House Kure’
Tough-Tendai Biti declared Tsvangirai
the winner 
Again, we had parliamentary elections in 2005 and subsequently the historic harmonised election on March 29 of 2008. After realising that ZANU PF had lost Mugabe’s Zimbabwe Electoral Commission delayed announcing the presidential result but the writing was already on the wall that he had lost. The delay raised suspicion that probably Mugabe’s rigging apparatus were at work trying to fix the result so that Tsvangirai does not become an outright winner.  It is the time which I personally believe Tsvangirai failed to seize the opportunity to claim his victory. One thing he failed to understand was that  ZEC would have never announced Mugabe’s outright defeat and letting him (Tsvangirai) take over. That would have never happened and it will never happen, not in a million years! Interestingly, MDC secretary general Tendai Biti had set the tone after boldly  announcing during a press conference at Meikles Hotel that Tsvangirai had won and  declaring that  Tsvangirai was Zimbabwe’s new president. That announcement eventually got him into trouble. But was it wrong for Biti to make the announcement? I guess not, it was clear to everyone that Mugabe had lost by more than the required ballot for one to be declared outright winner. The mood in the country that time was ripe, everyone wanted change and the people wanted new leadership. 

But Tsvangirai later, backtracked, cowardly and unwisely  encouraged Zimbabweans to be patient for the results, rather than take the Zimbabweans to the street to claim his victory. How he thought that George Chiweshe (ZEC Chairperson) was going to announce, ‘Congratulations Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, You are duly elected President! Lol. And the president elect will wait for Chidyausiku to swear him in office, and subsequently moving to State House and assume his duties as Head of State. Ha ha ha ha!!!  That easy? It’s not as easy as saying the sky is blue, the late Simon Chimbetu testified in his song KuState House  Kure (State House is far) from his unpopular album Hoko. Pakutoda kusungwa dzisimbe.  Sacrifices have to be made. It’s a long strenuous journey, and not for the faint-hearted or those of a nervous disposition, but it needs high level discipline, principled, courage and determination. ZANU PF had never anticipated a defeat and the result shocked and they were clueless.  But after realising that even Tsvangirai seemed relaxed and didn’t have the slightest of clue to take over, they re-strategized and through their blue-eyed  boys, Chiweshe and crew announced  the results after 5 weeks claiming that none of the candidates had polled an outright victory.  The result meant that a run-off election was now imminent, an election which later became a one-man show pitting Robert Mugabe and himself.  Mugabe knew  very well that the June 27 election lacked any semblance of legitimacy and they cleverly forced the MDC in a power sharing agreement which the MDC are mere passengers.

When the pen is less mightier
In any future poll if the MDC does not do its homework thoroughly and just think that whoever conducting the election will announce the outright defeat of Mugabe, then  I bet  they will remain in the peripheries of the corridors of power. Radicalism is needed in any revolution. The Ivory Coast should be a case study to the MDC, they can take a lesson from what happened when sitting president Laurent  Gabgo tried to subvert the peoples vote, after he had lost the poll. The masses in Ivorians revolted led by Qattara. It was however unfortunate that the western powers  hijacked the peoples’ processes turning the peaceful protests bloody. Otherwise the MDC will continue participating in elections, winning them but only to remain outside the realms of state power because of their lackadaisical approach to take  the coronet. Winning an election is one thing and getting state power is another thing. It will not be easy to remove the ZANU PF government out of power even when they have lost an election.  A pen alone is not enough, though mightier it has to be backed by action. Not that I am suggesting an armed struggle. NO! But massive streets protests like the ones which swept the Arab region will certainly drive the Mugabe cabal out of power.  And this has to be aided first by democratic processes like elections. Elections we do need them, but there’s need to have a strategy after that election on how to take control of the state after a victory. The focus of the MDC now should be  mobilisation and conscientisation  of the masses on the need to defend their vote. ZANU PF have had their time and will not win elections not any time soon. The MDC should never accept another delay in results, another Government of No Unity were they will be mere dolls but aim to be overally in-charge of the state. After failing again to take over from ZANU PF after another electoral victory will result in the masses passing for a big vote of no confidence in the MDC and look elsewhere for political salvation rather than continuously betting for a horse that gives birth before reaching the finishing line. Zvazviri!

Blessing Vava is from Chipinge and can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com