Mugabe last week told his party’s youths that he wants early elections, preferably mid next year after the referendum on a new constitution which he fancies in the first quarter of the year.
There is no doubt that Mugabe’s strategy is to go for early elections when his faltering health still permits and when his arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T are on the ropes and floundering. Mugabe wants to secure his future in this process and ensure that he becomes life president. There is no other motivation than his personal interests, particularly safe-guarding himself against all sorts of possible consequences of his disastrous rule, including prosecution for gross human rights abuses.
His expedient agitation for elections is motivated by his own sense of insecurity. This suits the collective interest of his Zanu PF cronies who want him to remain in office so they can continue looting and protect their ill-gotten wealth.
Electioneering has actually started. Besides Mugabe’s recent moves and statements, the hullabaloo over the Big Brother Africa reality show outcome and Munya’s impressive performance has been hijacked and politicised by Zanu PF. While ordinary people who supported Munya did it for national pride and entertainment, Mugabe and his Zanu PF lackeys are busy politicking and campaigning.
The ridiculous posturing and the charade of goodwill exhibited around the issue are a thinly-veiled – but certainly hopeless — attempt to capture the national mood and with a bit of luck votes, especially among the young people who have long tergiversated the party which is now home to political dinosaurs and their failed policies.
Since when has Zanu PF mandarins and surrogates been so generous when they have through misrule and corruption ruined schools, hospitals and clinics, roads, water systems, electricity and other utility infrastructure without scruples? They even have a record of stealing public funds.
And are there no other serious causes for them to rally around like taking care of the kids who are not going to school because they can’t afford exorbitant fees, the elderly who are neglected and suffering or orphans instead of trying to project Zimbabwe through Big Brother?
Why are they not concerned about people who have no water, electricity and jobs out there? How about local refugees in South Africa and elsewhere who fled Mugabe’s economic tsunami and political violence?
The plot is clear. Mugabe is pushing for early elections and is already campaigning.
But before fresh elections Zimbabwe needs first to fully adopt Sadc principles and guidelines governing democratic elections. These include creating conditions to ensure full participation of citizens in the political process, freedom of association, assembly and speech, political tolerance, equal opportunity for political parties, independence of the judiciary, impartiality of electoral institutions, opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for, voter education, acceptance of election results and the opportunity to challenge contested results in terms of the law of the land.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which runs elections, must be impartial and competent. A new voters’ roll which is accurate and up to date is needed. Impartial voter education must be freely allowed. Delimitation of constituencies must be transparent and credible, and there should be no gerrymandering.
Elections are a process, not just an event. The entire process leading up to and including the actual voting must be peaceful, free and fair. Political parties must be able to campaign freely and peacefully. Violence or intimidation and bribery must not be allowed.
Political parties contesting elections must have fair and
equal access to the public media. Polling stations must be accessible to voters and be adequately manned. Monitors and observers must be given free access. The counting of votes must be done accurately and efficiently and results announced promptly.