HomeOpinionThis Run-off Is Unnecessary

This Run-off Is Unnecessary

WHEN Joram Nyathi (Candid Comment, Zimbabwe Independent, May 23) suggested that it was pointless to vote in the June 27 presidential election run-off I thought he was suffering from the same syndrome that has afflicted many “learned” Zimbabweans — analysing issues too much instead of just getting on with it and concentrating on the bigger picture.


In his hard-hitting commentary, Nyathi urged Zimbabweans to boycott an election he thought was only aimed at fulfilling the “hollow pleasures of only two men”.

Nyathi argues that if Robert Mugabe had heeded calls for reforms within his own Zanu PF party by standing down and letting others take over Zanu PF and its presidential candidate would have won the March 29 election comfortably.

Similarly, if the MDC had gone into this election as a united front with a clear agenda they would also have beaten Mugabe and Zanu PF hands down.

As it turns out, it is the poor Zimbabwean who is now paying the price in this unnecessary and expensive runoff.

While Nyathi’s argument is convincing, the more pragmatic among us thought this was not the time for political point scoring.

With the way the standards of living have fallen in Zimbabwe, with inflation over 1 000 000% and falling, surely the last thing anyone is looking for is perfection in our political parties.

The MDC had done very well to win the House of Assembly, and with Tsvangirai commanding a very comfortable lead in the first round, the second round would simply remove all vestiges of Zanu PF’s legacy of maladministration and incompetence.

The realisation that Mugabe wasn’t invincible after all was further strengthened when the two formations of the MDC announced that they would back Tsvangirai in the runoff and would also vote together in parliament.

Whatever problems we might have had with the squabbling factions of the MDC, we thought it was more important to show Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe the exit door and soon after begin the process of rebuilding Zimbabwe.

Calls for boycotting the elections were therefore misplaced and would not solve anything, but help to further condemn Zimbabweans to more suffering.

But everything came crumbling down with the announcement that the two formations of the MDC had decided to field separate candidates in the three by-elections to be held at the same time as the presidential run-off.

The MDC-T grouping even fielded two candidates in one constituency.

Everyone knows that the reason why the MDC did not win more seats in parliament and also why Tsvangirai failed to get the required majority was because of the split votes.

Most of the over 8% of the votes attributed to the other presidential aspirant Simba Makoni were actually disgruntled potential MDC voters who were fed up with the squabbling and apparent lack of direction within the opposition.

At the very least, one would have expected that they had learnt their lesson and, given another chance, they would do things differently.

It is interesting to note that while the MDC candidates were filing their papers, Morgan Tsvangirai was addressing an MDC parliamentary caucus meeting where he laid out an impressive recovery agenda for the country.

But when viewed against the latest developments, Tsvangirai’s speech appears hollow and does nothing to inspire a sizeable number of people who have continued to question his leadership abilities.

For sure Zanu PF belongs to the dustbin of Zimbabwean history, but if the MDC cannot agree on the allocation of a few parliamentary seats what hope do we have that they would be different from Zanu PF?

The results of the first round showed that people no longer buy the warped, skewed and nauseating Zanu PF anti-Western propaganda.

But the MDC should begin to earn their own respect from people, instead of just relying on the anti-Zanu PF sentiment currently prevailing.

Unless changes are made in the run-up to the run-off, I believe it is testing people’s patience too much to continue asking them to vote for the MDC without questioning some of the decisions.

Under the circumstances, one is forced to accept Nyathi’s view that this run-off is unnecessary and would not change anything, whatever the outcome.

The only people who will profit from it are politicians who think of their careers and political profiles ahead of the lives of the people they purport to care about.

*Taivo writes from the UK.

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