Zimbabwe’s ‘selectorate’ Versus the Electorate

IN any functional democracy, the electorate is supreme: It is the electorate’s vote and voice that confers legitimacy on any government and any national leadership.

The voting public is at the centre of any democracy. The electorate, through the process of an election, determines who should govern them and through a contract called a constitution, determine how, why and when they should be governed.

The very essence of the holding of elections is either regime change or regime continuity. Regime change becomes the verdict of the electorate on a regime that has performed below expectations.

On the other hand, regime continuity becomes the natural reward or endorsement to a regime that has satisfied and pleased the electorate.

But in Zimbabwe, since 1980, a negative counter-force of the “selectorate brigade” has emerged and has been nurtured at the expense of the electorate.

The “selectorate” is a nefarious body of unelected powerful individuals within both the bureaucrats and the securocrats who have sought to vanquish and overthrow the sovereign wishes and unfettered will of the electorate.

We have seen the jettisoning of the mandate and decay of the will of the electorate. We have seen the slow death of respect for the electoral process.

We have also witnessed the vilification of the electorate and the rise of a “selectorate” which consists of a few selected or appointed people who are not accountable to anyone but who wield more power than the voting public.

We have seen the punishing of the electorate for passing a verdict. Matabeleland in general; Chipinge and Binga are underdeveloped because they have perennially sought to exercise their democratic right to vote for political parties of their choice.

We have equally had cases where the electorate has been rewarded for passing a favourable verdict and that is why there is developed matrix in places such as Chinhoyi and Chikomba.

Today, the “selectorate” is a minute quasi-government entity planted in various state institutions which works day and night to frustrate the will of the people by fighting the inclusive government.

Certain elements in the securocracy and bureaucracy are part of the “selectorate”  which has worked hard to plant landmines in the collective journey of hope that Zimbabweans embarked upon at the formation of the inclusive government in February 2009.

The tentacles of Zimbabwe’s “selectorate”  spread from a few elements in the state machinery including the Attorney-General’s office and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

This dark list includes the new commissariat of Zanu PF, now run by a senior civil servant in the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity and his retinue of sidekicks at the Herald and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

This “selectorate” is at the core of the Zimbabwean crisis, the non-implementation of the provisions of the Global Political Agreement and the perennial disappointment of the electorate.

We have a sulking minority that now determines whether one is arrested or not. We have a scenario where a minute, partisan and selectoral body can decide whether you can be arrested or be buried at the National Heroes Acre.

We have a “selectorate” which ran wild after March 29 last year because it believes power is derived through force and not through the legitimacy of an electoral process.

It believes an election is a ritual, a calendar event which has no power to shape and configure the power dynamics in any country.

The “selectorate” consists of bloodhounds whose sole agenda is to annihilate and exterminate the electoral agenda by killing both the electoral process and the electorate itself.

Zimbabweans are suffering the consequences of an arrested transition which has arisen mainly because of residual hardliners who are against the real change agenda.

Those who have arrested the transition and who are wielding the handcuffs and the leg-irons which have shackled the change agenda are in the “selectorate”.

This group has undermined media and constitutional reform. It has criminalised “regime change” when it is obvious that any election will yield either regime change or regime retention.

The “selectorate” has been at the centre of fighting the constitution-making process because a new constitution will give birth to credible and strong institutions that will undermine the power and influence of the same “selectorate”.

Those who call for the adoption of the Kariba Draft have a “selectorate” mindset which does not want a people-driven constitution-making process.

The “selectorate”  has been vocal in the illegal attempt to grab IMF funds. It has been vocal in vilifying and maligning the MDC and its leadership in the public media.

In short, the “selectorate” has refused to adapt to the irreversible change agenda which this country has embarked upon. The major resistance to a new dispensation has been driven by the “selectorate” and its master; the one who appoints or disappoints.

In all democracies, the electorate calls the shots. In all dictatorships and quasi-dictatorships the “selectorate” is in charge.

The “selectorate” should supposedly be subservient to the electorate but Zimbabwe is a sad and unfortunate case of the tail wagging the dog.

Zimbabweans want real change. They want hope, security, dignity, prosperity and freedom.

They want credible national institutions and independent commissions to reassert the supremacy and legitimacy of the electorate as the ultimate umpire in national political dynamics.

The major lesson after March 29 is that we cannot allow the “selectorate” to assassinate the sanctity and supremacy of the electorate.

Never again should a selected few be more powerful than the electing many. Never again should polls be a meaningless ritual. Never again should national institutions be a dark garden where the “selectorate” is planted to ensure that Zimbabweans do not get their rightful place in the sun!

We all yearn for a return to democracy where the electorate drives the political agenda; where the people’s unfettered will makes or unmakes governments; where voters determine and choose their own government without any sneaking fear that a minute “selectorate” will undo their vote and gag their voice as happened post-March 29.

We want an end to this quasi-dictatorship where the “selectorate” has taken it upon itself to dabble in the promotion and demotion of interests; which in essence is the definition of politics.

When all is said and done, until we build strong institutions to create sustainable democracy and cause real change, the struggle for a democratic Zimbabwe will remain unfinished national business. — ZimOnline.

Luke Tamborinyoka is the director of information and publicity in the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. He can be contacted on mhofu@yahoo.co.uk.

 

By Luke Tamborinyoka

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