It boggles the mind to figure out Jonathan Moyo’s twisted logic in his daily rantings in the state-owned media to which the other parties don’t have access.
Opinion by Clifford Mashiri
In his latest mouthing, the Zanu PF politburo member claims MDC-T is, in his words, “desperately trying to prolong voter registration beyond the 30–day minimum constitutional requirement after realising that it was failing to get its supporters to register” (The Herald of June 11, in an article titled Moyo alleges MDC-T in panic mode).
While I don’t hold any brief for the MDC-T, it is worthwhile to expose Moyo’s flawed reasoning.
Contrary to his assertions, it is arguable that it is him and his boss President Robert Mugabe who should be panicking about the Constitutional Court (Concourt)-imposed deadline, than the opposition to Zanu PF.
Firstly, going by the rationale of a recent Supreme Court application by Maria Phiri of Bulawayo, former aliens have to acquire identity cards first and cannot immediately benefit from the 30-day voter registration exercise which began on June 10 and ends on July 10. As a result, she argues, polls could only be held after August 12.
Secondly, Research and Advocacy Unit (Rau) perceptively notes that to comply with the Concourt ruling, Mugabe will have to alter provisions of the Electoral Act specifically agreed among the main political parties and which formed part of the 2007 amendments to the Act — that is, that voter registration must end 24 hours before the nomination court sits.
It is this provision, says Rau, which prevents the president from complying with the 30-day registration period in the constitution and the Concourt order.
Furthermore, Rau points out that if there is to be compliance with the law, it seems that the president will have to ask the Concourt for a postponement, which he proved very good at during the by-election saga.
However, in Rau’s view, “the problem for the president is that if he is able to ask for a postponement to another date, this will then make it clear that July 31 is not carved in stone by the law, as Zanu PF would like the populace to believe”.
Thirdly, going by news reports from Harare, the former information minister, and other Zanu PF “prodigal sons” risk being barred from standing as candidates unless they had served in the party as office bearers for a cumulative period of at least five years to the primary elections.
It is common knowledge that if Zanu PF adopts its guidelines on qualifications for candidates, Moyo could kiss goodbye to his plan B of standing as a candidate in Zanu PF’s primary elections because he was only re-admitted into the party at the end of 2009 after being expelled in 2005.
Tsvangirai should keep tightening pressure to thwart Mugabe’s bid to stampede the country into a farcical election. He should not relent. If he does, Mugabe will laugh the whole way to another sham swearing-in ceremony as president.
Finally, it is safe to argue that the recent regrouping of the opposition coalition against Mugabe’s dictatorship is causing Moyo sleepless nights as he realises how he has failed to raise Zanu PF from its “Lazarus Moment” as he races against time before being disqualified in primary elections.
A grand opposition alliance does not necessarily mean all the parties are swallowed by MDC-T. Not necessarily, although a greater convergence would make things easier.
The coalition need not be in writing either. However, it’s regular visibility like we saw last week, is enough to cause nightmares to those who have thrived on political violence and vote-rigging for decades.
Regardless of how the opposition parties would like to field candidates for elections, at least their priority should be in calling for credible electoral reforms, media, security sector, human rights reforms, sufficient time for voter registration and education, especially on the electoral systems, finalisation on dual citizenship, international observers and, of course, United Nations funding and supervision of the elections.
It should be noted that Zanu- PF’s opposition to UN funding has nothing to do with sovereignty, but because of a hard-hitting UN panel of experts report produced in 2002 accusing the party, military and some businesspeople aligned to Mugabe of looting the Democratic Republic of Congo’s natural resources, including but not only limited to diamonds.
Even Mugabe confessed to having been given a mining concession by the late DRC president Laurent Kabila. As a result, they were slapped with sanctions.
Crucially, any opposition alliance cannot be divorced from the electoral system, which promises to be a mixture of proportional representation and first-past-the-post systems; that is voting for a party list like we did in 1980 and voting for a particular candidate in constituencies.
The electoral process is inevitably fraught with serious challenges ahead and sharp disagreements cannot be ruled out.
However, leaders of smaller parties should know that they stand a good chance of getting government posts at home and abroad if a grand opposition alliance wins elections than if they stand as smaller mushrooming units.
Ideally, Zimbabwean think tanks should be educating people on the envisaged electoral systems and the pros and cons as well as the modalities of a grand opposition alliance. It is a civic duty.
Otherwise, Jonathan Moyo is just singing for his supper.
Mashiri is a political analyst based in London. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org