By Blessing Vava
|One man race-President Mugabe voting for |
himself in a sham election pitting himself
The month of March 2013 will mark exactly five solid years since the country held the historic harmonised elections whose result for the first time in history were not in favour of Robert Mugabe and his party ZANU PF. Unlike the previous polls, it was a relatively peaceful poll with less incidences of politically motivated violence and many Zimbabweans expected a new government to take over from ZANU PF as indications from the ground signalled a lose by the Mugabe regime. That election taught us about the power of masses, it was a protest by the masses of Zimbabwe that they were tired and had lost confidence in the Mugabe administration. It was a big NO to a stale economy, corruption, looting, dictatorship, violence, and intimidation all which had been the core characteristics of the ZANU PF government since they took over Harare in 1980.
Not anyone in ZANU PF probably expected a rejection from the electorate they were confident of securing a victory. In fact the election result left them in a state of shock and by that time they were clueless because they never imagined losing an election. However, apart from losing that election, the MDC aided ZANU PF to resuscitate itself. The MDC surrendered the people’s victory by failing to claim victory as evidenced by its leadership including Morgan Tsvangirai who fled the country to Botswana instead of running to state house. During that time the masses were energised they were very much prepared for a new government led not by ZANU PF but by the MDC. The people were prepared to defend democracy, what was needed was a leader that would invoke revolutionary spirit amongst the electorate and assure them they would ‘walk and live with the masses.’
To much shock and surprise the MDC lacked a clear plan to take over the state and they gave ZANU PF space to breathe again. The reaction was largely that the MDC entered into a race without expecting to win. As if that was not enough, the party pulled another shocker by pulling out of the runoff election a week before it was conducted. The move to pull out was a betrayal to the thousands of Zimbabweans who were beaten, incarcerated, killed in the run-up to that June 27 make-believe. Seriously how do you pull out on the eve of an election without a strong basis of doing so? ZANU PF’s electoral mal-practises were reaping the negative on its bid to retain power -violence had ceased to work in Zimbabwe’s body politic and I bet my last dollar that Mugabe was not going to win that election. "We have resolved that we will no longer participate in the violent, illegitimate sham of an election process. We will not play the game of Mugabe," Tsvangirai had said at a press conference in Harare on 22 June 2008. The irony is that little did he know that the people had precisely protested to this electoral fraud earlier in the March polls and with the intensification of violence between April and June the MDC was assured of a resounding victory
Now in 2013, the talk of elections seems topical with the MDC now being the loudest in wanting polls despite having many disadvantages. It’s really surprising that they are so confident that this time again they are going to form the next government yet they have not corrected the mistakes of 2008 and made more blunders thereafter. In 2008, they managed to get more votes than ZANU PF because the masses were energised to their cause but still they sold the people’s victory by failing to demand the keys to state house.
The MDC has systemically shied away from its founding principles in the process alienating itself from the broader Save Zimbabwe ‘former’ alliance partners namely the worker’s, the students union and the NCA who backed their campaign in 2008. The support they received from the three partners is unlikely in this year’s polls. This time around it will be a different ball altogether, there is discord in the structures, the masses are lukewarm. The corruption, looting by councillors will also be a determining factor. In short it is the performance of the MDC in the inclusive government which has been disastrous and dangerous which will cost them dearly. Their stay in government has exposed them as a party incapable of forming the next government. Despite warning from the Freedom House survey that showed the party losing ground from its traditional support base, the MDC chose to lash at empirical evidence.
The biggest travesty committed by the MDC was its betrayal of its founding principles epitomised by the constitution making process for the country. Instead of pushing for a people driven process as articulated by the founding documents they desperately tried to convince alliance partners, the ZCTU, NCA and ZINASU who were strongly against the flawed politician driven process that the process was a good one.
That’s where they lost it all, they were short-sighted and wanted immediate power as they argued during that time that a new constitution will get rid of Mugabe. So funny how they imagined that ZANU PF was sincere in that short space of time considering that it was the same party which had maimed, raped, killed and jailed MDC supporters in the last decade, despite this trend continuing in the GNU the MDC chooses to cast a blind eye. Apart from that the MDC has become so much comfortable in government and have since deserted their party headquarters and they now speak in comfort of their government offices while the party structures are in shambles and the party more isolated than before.
The imposition of candidates will cost them in the elections, they need to rethink and allow for democratic processes like the holding of primary elections if they are serious in claiming a victory over ZANU PF. What is baffling is that the party lost the Redcliff seat in 2008 after this imposition, with party supporters disenchanted that they threatened to stab Tsvangirai who had to flee for cover. The current attempts to defend the imposition of candidates by culturalising it is folly and alien in the founding documents of the party, it will only serve as an on-go giving ZANU PF electoral advantage. The MDC should not fool themselves into believing that this time again they will easily wrestle power from ZANU PF in the elections. This elections is no longer about chanting slogans but issues-based-leadership responses and implementable policy frameworks meant at curbing corruption, taming and eliminating dictatorship within the party and at a national scale, democratising the authoring of a new people driven constitution, real economic resuscitation and growth, provision of genuine health care and quality education to the masses inter alia sustainable job creation guaranteeing minimum wages and salaries.
They must go back to the drawing board and re-adopt the founding principles, spirit and letter to the party’s formation in order to re-energise the masses to their cause, without which it will be a catastrophe to enter into a race where the electorate is in doubt and demobilised. The only certain thing at the moment is that the masses of Zimbabwe no longer want a ZANU PF government.
NB-Views expressed in this article are purely personal.
Blessing ‘Vuvuzela’ Vava is a blogger who writes from Chipinge and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or 27849686624