AFTER cornering President Robert Mugabe in the March elections, Zimbabweans go to the presidential poll run-off next Friday faced with an option of letting him off the hook and enduring untold suffering or finishing the job by evicting him from State House to end their collective misery.
Itâ€™s a historic election like no other since Independence in 1980. The main question of the day would be: will Mugabe survive this time around? Will Zimbabweans let him wriggle off the hook or will they take the bull by the horns to tame the beast? The ball is entirely in the votersâ€™ court.
Despite the escalating repression and violence, as well as electoral shenanigans of the Mugabe regime, irresistible peopleâ€™s power could prevail if the voters go out in their numbers to express their will. Voters from the south-western part of this country have shown in the past terror and brutality can be defied. In the middle of fierce repression, violence and massacres in 1985, voters in Matabeleland and Midlands rejected Zanu PF and voted for PF-Zapu. Violence on its own does not yield votes. Excuses aside, it is possible for people to refuse to be intimidated and subjugated through violence and bribery.
Some always argue the situation in Matabeleland was different from the current state of politics and therefore cannot be used as an example of how people can defy and reject a violent party and leadership. Of course the circumstances are different â€” that is obvious â€” but the point remains that PF-Zapu supporters rejected Zanu PF under far more extreme conditions of repression and violence than now.
Why canâ€™t MDC supporters and all the disgruntled voters be able to do the same? Dismissing the example of Matabeleland implies Zimbabweans at large are hostages to Mugabe and Zanu PF, something that people should not encourage or be proud of.
It is feasible people can vote against a repressive and violent regime. It has happened elsewhere in post-colonial Africa and it means it can also be done in Zimbabwe. Why canâ€™t Zimbabweans free themselves in the same way? The history and political dynamics of various countries are different, but the quest for freedom is a universal cause.
There will definitely be determined efforts to subvert and undermine the peopleâ€™s will, but a resolute electorate is able to overcome its adversities through the ballot box. People should call Mugabeâ€™s bluff that the pen is not mightier than the sword by voting in large numbers against him and see what happens. It doesnâ€™t matter if he resorts to retributive violence or even a military take over because history will record that he was rejected at the polls. People should ensure that they are on the right side of history. Voting for Mugabe in the midst of such a crisis would certainly be an endorsement of his destructive legacy and would not change the situation, except for the worse.
Already some say Mugabe will win come hell or high water. They now accept this as a fait accompli and even go on to say it would have to be a cold day in hell for Morgan Tsvangirai to win under such conditions. This is tantamount to capitulation. Those who peddle this argument seek refugee in the lame argument that this is being realistic, but reality is often a perception. As they say, the dividing line is wafer-thin.
Ordinarily, it is difficult to see how Mugabe can lose the run-off after his warlike campaign driven by the state security forces. The military-style campaign left a trail of destruction, including dozens of casualties, and a badly terrified electorate, but it is still feasible for people to go out and vote against Mugabe. If it is within the realm of feasibility, why canâ€™t it be done?
The objective economic conditions on the ground dictate that voters have to reject violence and intimidation. Things are rapidly going from bad to worse. There is barely any food in the supermarkets after last yearâ€™s government-engineered policy tsunami swept across a swathe of the land, leaving a trail of destruction and mayhem in its ugly wake.
Desperate Zimbabweans are now flocking into neighbouring countries to buy food â€” including the staple mealie-meal, beef and salt â€” in a bid to fend off hunger. Clear conditions of a man-made famine are fast developing in Zimbabwe. Famines are usually the product of drought, crop failure and pestilence, and man-made causes such as war or misguided economic policies.
In Zimbabwe the problem is clearly man-made. Leadership and policy failures have caused the food shortages and suffering. A disastrous cocktail of repression, human rights abuses and economic collapse have forced Zimbabweans to flee en masse to other countries at the risk of facing foreign hostility, including xenophobic attacks.
Our political and civil liberties have been eroded or taken away except the right to starve!
Inflation is scaling stratospheric levels and the local currency is crashing almost daily to unimaginable depths. Mugabe is no longer even pretending he has something to offer the electorate during his current campaigns. Not even his tunnel vision.
He is hawking threats of retribution and war. His campaign is polarised and sounds paranoid, with dangerous emotional overtones and anxiety. He has nothing to offer anymore. So why should people vote for him?
By Dumisani Muleya