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Major reforms critical for credible elections

“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has admitted that the polling station-based voters’ roll trial-run recently conducted in Marondera exposed glaring logistical challenges which could stop plans to roll it out to all parts of the country ahead of the 2018 general elections,” reported Newsday on Monday.

Wilbert Mukori

The only real surprise here is that Zec officials admitted their proposed solution to end Zimbabwe’s political culture of rigged elections would not work.

The normal thing for Zec would have been to praise the trial-run to the heavens and make a big song and dance about this regime is now totally committed to ensuring the next elections are free, fair and credible.

As long as President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF retain their octopus grip and control of state institutions like the police, CIO, army, public media, judiciary, Zec, among others, there will never be free, fair and credible elections in Zimbabwe.

After rigging previous polls, the Zanu PF regime has always promised to change the conduct of elections to address the opposition and critics’ complains. However, all it has ever done is to tinker around with the structure of this institution or the process without changing anything.

Indeed, this was done to hide its latest vote rigging tricks.

In Mugabe’s 35 years in power, he has rarely used the same vote-rigging dirty trick twice; he has always tweaked the system and left his challengers, particularly the average players like MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders, scratching their heads in confusion.

For example, it was not until noon of elections day, July 31 2013, that it finally dawned on Tsvangirai that the elections had been rigged; everyone else had seen this coming and had even warned MDC leaders, but of course, they never listened to anyone.

As a nation we were slow off the mark in 1980 and allowed Mugabe to establish this Zanu PF dictatorship that has brought nothing but political paralysis and economic ruin.

We had the opportunity to end tyranny during the Government of National Unity (GNU), but once again, we failed to realise Tsvangirai and his MDC colleagues were too incompetent to implement all of the 2008 Global Political Agreement (GPA) democratic reforms. These were a necessary prerequisite for meaningful change, which would end Zanu PF’s octopus dictatorial reach and control of state institutions.

Since the July 2013 rigged elections, Tsvangirai has been pushing Zanu PF to implement wishy-washy electoral law reforms.

He insists that he “will force” Zanu PF to implement these electoral law reforms before the 2018 polls. We have wasted two years and have less than three years before elections and still not even one of these reforms has been implemented. And still Tsvangirai maintains they will be implemented on time. This is just the usual myopia we have come to expect from him.

Tsvangirai insisted the 2013 elections would be free, fair and credible, but of course, we now know they were not; that is now a historic fact.

But more significantly, Veritas, a Zimbabwean think-tank on legal matters, had examined the electoral law amendments before parliament and concluded that they are “inadequate and incomplete” and thus will never deliver free and fair elections, even if they were implemented.

Zimbabwe needs political reforms first before we can tackle economic reforms necessary to end the country’s poverty emanating from worsening economic meltdown.

The economic reality of over 90% of people out of work has left the overwhelming majority impoverished.

The alarming level of poverty has resulted in many people failing to access basic necessities such as medicine, food and education.

Millions are economically impoverished, psychologically and physically exhausted, while they have also become weak and venerable to disease and illness.

Zimbabweans are dying of curable ailments such as high blood pressure because the country’s health delivery system has, like most other things, collapsed.

Poverty is fast becoming the country’s worst killer more potent that HIV and Aids and Malaria put together.

There only remedy to this is a political solution to end Zimbabwe’s more than decade-long economic meltdown.

This Zanu PF regime has not only dragged the nation into an economic hellhole but has also stubbornly refused to carry out the necessary economic reforms to end mismanagement, corruption and lawlessness at the heart of the country’s endemic economic malaise. Worse still the regime has created a de facto one-party state dictatorship that has functioned to suppress the will of the electorate.

The only legal and peaceful way to force Zanu PF out is by demanding the implementation of all the 2008 GPA democratic reforms.

We must reject MDC-T’s electoral law reforms which we now know are “inadequate and incomplete” and we must also reject Zanu PF’s endless tinkering with the voters’ roll, electoral process, etc, because neither of these will end Zanu PF’s control of the state institutions.

We must demand the implementation of all the 2008 GPA reforms as the prerequisite and guarantee for free, fair and credible elections.

The worsening economic crisis and the increasing human misery as well as suffering Zanu PF is causing will concentrate the nation’s attention on political reforms, while unpalatable social and economic problems continue.

By rigging elections, Mugabe has resisted regime change for 35 years, but Zimbabwe is now the cusp of a new era.

Zimbabwe has paid dearly in money, human suffering and lives to gratify his insatiable appetite for absolute power and wealth — the price going forward has now soared far beyond even what this subservient nation and its docile people, can endure without risking the complete breakdown of our very humanity.

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