Editor’s Memo: Elections, what elections?

THE call for elections seems to be growing louder by the day.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions last week called for fresh presidential polls and yesterday Zanu PF weighed in with an announcement that it was ready for elections.
Signs of an impending election are evident in the manner in which churches are becoming a campaign platform for both the MDC-T and Zanu PF. The election mood is also evident in the hate speech that is being stepped up in the media. There is nothing wrong with political parties being ready for elections but any suggestion that elections should be held any time soon smacks of political mischief. 
The only sober voice in this scheme of things is Arthur Mutambara’s. He has pointed to the need for the inclusive government to create its own peacekeeping force, engage in effective national healing, effect media reforms and reform the Electoral Commission. Other issues that Mutambara raises include having an effective Human Rights Commission. These reforms are supposed to create a conducive environment for elections.
Although MPs are resisting the idea of an election because it will not only cut their terms short but could turn out to be costly both in terms of resources and human capital, some political leaders seem determined to forge ahead. The wounds of the 2008 election are still fresh in the minds of ordinary Zimbabweans who are only too happy to be going about their business without the burden of being sjamboked by political activists. Elections in Zimbabwe have come to represent a spectre that sends a chill down the spines of villagers who have not forgotten the violence and plunder that accompanied the previous election.
To the ordinary Zimbabwean, only the economic situation has improved but questions remain on the political front. Within the government of national unity itself there seems to be so much tension that it is difficult to believe claims that the country’s leadership has buried the hatchet. Hardly a week passes without a complaint from the MDC-T that Zanu PF is bulldozing its way around the government of national unity. Newspapers are awash with stories of flagrant disregard for the person of the Prime Minister. Ministers boycotting Council of Ministers meetings, the Prime Minister complaining that he has not been consulted on this or that and government officials pointing to the Prime Minister’s perceived ignorance of protocol and procedure are some of the issues that come to mind. 
Zimbabweans have been reading media reports of the kind of ruckus that the GNU has turned out to be. And these are the same people trying to give the impression that things have changed!
The main political players in the country cannot fool the nation that circumstances have changed since 2008. In fact those calling for elections should say on whose behalf they are speaking because it is certainly not on behalf of the man on the street. The same people who were running the show in 2008 are still in power. For example, the same service chiefs who showed disdain for Tsvangirai are still in uniform.
What assurance is there that they will accede to a change of government should their preferred candidate lose? What assurance do we have that the incumbent will vacate office should he lose? What assurance do we have that there will be no violence after the poll, Kenyan style? And, indeed, should the incumbent win, what assurance do we have that the election will be accepted as legitimate by the international community?
While we may want to rant on about sovereignty and independence, it is common cause that one of the major problems facing the Zimbabwean political scene is that of legitimacy of government. Otherwise there would have been no need for a compromise government!  
Zimbabweans have shown much resilience and patience in the face of political chicanery. Politicians should know that they cannot take the citizenry for granted every time. Politicians need to take the electorate seriously and not look after their own political interests at the expense of the freedoms of ordinary people. In any case there is much left to be done in terms of healing.
Zimbabwe is not ready for an election yet!

 

 

Edwin Dube