Violence Won’t Rescue Mugabe

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe will need more than violence to win the anticipated presidential election run-off against MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai, political analysts have said.

 

The analysts have argued that the 84-year-old Zanu PF leader has in the past used violence but failed to garner support prompting him to rig elections to secure victory for himself and the ruling party.

Mugabe lost the March 29 presidential election to Tsvangirai, but the opposition leader failed to garner the mandatory 50% plus votes to avoid a run-off.

According to results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) a month after the poll, Tsvangirai won 47,9% of the votes cast, Mugabe 43,2% and independent candidate Simba Makoni 8,3%. Another independent candidate Langton Towungana garnered 0,6% of the vote.

In terms of the country’s electoral law, a presidential run-off should be held by May 23 — 21 days after the announcement of the first-round poll results.

“Violence alone cannot win an election for Mugabe,” said University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Brian Ngwenya.

“In the 2000 parliamentary and 2002 presidential elections Zanu PF stole the elections after violence had failed to deliver the desired results.”

Ngwenya said that despite the post-March 29 election violence allegedly being perpetrated by state security agents, Zanu PF militia and war veterans, Tsvangirai would cruise to victory.

“The tide of change is so strong and cannot be stopped by violence,” Ngwenya argued.

He said as long as the run-off is observed by the international community, Tsvangirai would triumph against Mugabe who has been in power since Independence in 1980.

“There is no way Zanu PF can win a transparent election in Zimbabwe considering the mess in which the country is in,” Ngwenya added.

A Harare-based political scientist who spoke on condition of anonymity said Mugabe needed more than violence to win the run-off.

“Despite the terror campaigns by the militia in the rural areas, Zanu PF is going to lose dismally in the run-off,” the analyst said.

He argued that Zimbabwe’s political, economic and social crisis would spur the electorate to dump Mugabe whom they blame for the country’s ills.

“The economic and social service conditions in Zimbabwe have made Mugabe unelectable,” the analyst said.

“In the eyes of the electorate, a vote against Mugabe is a vote for better social and economic conditions.”

Another analyst, Michael Mhike, recently told the Zimbabwe Independent that the violent Operation Mavhoterapapi (where did you vote?) would not work.

“The electorate is resolute — Mugabe must go. No amount of murder, torture and assault will discourage the people of Zimbabwe from voting out Mugabe and Zanu PF.”

Mhike said the electorate would reject Mugabe in the same way the Matabeleland region has been snubbing him since Independence in 1980.

“Despite unleashing the Gukurahundi in the 1980s in Matabeleland, Mugabe and Zanu PF lost each and every election that has been held in the region,” Mhike said.

“This time around, the electorate throughout the country has rejected Mugabe and the same will apply in the run-off.”

During the Gukurahundi era, over 20 000 civilians were killed by the North Korean-trained Five Brigade in what the government claimed was a counter-insurgency operation against PF Zapu dissidents in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces. Mugabe is yet to apologise for the disturbances despite Zanu PF and PF Zapu in 1987 becoming a united party.

The closest he came to offer an apology was when he described the Gukurahundi era as a “moment of madness”.

But political scientist and academic Eldred Masunungure is of the view that Mugabe can in fact win against Tsvangirai through force.

He argued that violence has always been Zanu PF’s traditional tool whenever there is a tight contest.

“Zanu PF has realised that violence was the missing factor in the just-ended elections and this time around they are going to use it to ensure victory for Mugabe,” Masunungure argued.

“In the March election Mugabe used buses, computers, generators and enhanced civil service salaries, but still he lost. For them, violence is the only means for a clear win for Mugabe.”

Masunungure said the first round election revealed to Zanu PF that inducements did not achieve anything, and that violence had previously delivered the results for the party.

He said Zanu PF would plug all loopholes before the run-off to secure Mugabe’s victory.

“They will put in motion all measures that were not there on March 29 to ensure a Zanu PF victory,” he added.

He argued that Tsvangirai has not been dominant in the Mashonaland provinces and the current violence could be used by Mugabe to consolidate his dominance in those areas.

While other analysts acknowledged that the alleged deployment of soldiers, war veterans and youth militia in the countryside was intimidating, they argued that the electorate was determined to see an end to Zanu PF’s misrule and lack of social development policies.

The MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, alleged this week that over 20 supporters of the opposition party have since been killed throughout the country by Mugabe’s soldiers, youth militia and war veterans.

The party also claimed that 5 000 families have been displaced and over 800 homesteads burnt down since the first round of election.

“This is a humanitarian crisis of gigantic proportions which now needs the intervention of the United Nations. It is a disaster that the international community is ignoring,” Chamisa said.

However, the police deny that there was post-election violence and has since challenged anyone with such information to furnish the force with details.

In the countdown to the 2002 presidential election, the Human Rights Forum said there were 11 456 cases of gross human rights violations perpetrated by Zanu PF militia against the MDC.

Many of the violations involved murder, rape and torture. The forum said the violence was systematic, co-ordinated and occurred in all constituencies throughout the country, with the rural areas being the worst affected.

Ruling party politicians, the forum noted, made numerous inflammatory statements that encouraged violence. Mugabe won the presidential election by 400 000 votes against Tsvangirai, who challenged the result in court claiming rigging. The courts are yet to make a ruling on the former trade union leader’s application.

Fears abound that the 2002 violence would be surpassed this time around as the odds are stacked against Mugabe who is seeking a sixth term in office.

By Lucia Makamure

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