HomeAnalysisMuckraker: The hunt for democracy in the land of despotism

Muckraker: The hunt for democracy in the land of despotism

“. . . Mugabe’s continued stay in office has become such an excessive burden to the welfare of the state and such a fatal danger to the public interest of Zimbabweans at home and in the diaspora that each day that goes by with him in office leaves the nation’s survival at great risk . . .”

Is Zimbabwe headed for yet another disputed election? Can the country hold a free, fair and credible election this year? Will the securocrats, who wield immense influence, allow a truly democratic election?

MUCKRAKER Twitter: @MuckrakerZim

As correctly reported by the Zimbabwe Independent last week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa is planning to ambush the disjointed opposition with an early election that will effectively lead to the creation of a one-party state. He says the general election will be held within the next four or five months. What a bombshell!

Interestingly, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has emphasised that there is absolutely no need for the “electoral reforms” being demanded by opposition political parties and civil society. Are we headed for yet another disputed election? Does Mnangagwa understand what is at stake here? Is he alive to the ramifications of a sham election?

Of late, civil society activists and opposition campaigners have intensified their demands for a legitimate election. They accuse the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of lacking transparency and, more importantly, failing to institute the necessary reforms that will lead to a credible election.

In terms of the constitution, Zimbabwe must hold a general election before the end of August 2018. According to Section 158 of the constitution, [Timing of Elections]:

“(1) A general election must be held so that polling takes place not more than . . . 30 days before the expiry of the five-year period specified in section 143”. Section 143 (1) states that Parliament is elected for a five-year term, which runs from the date on which the President-elect is sworn in and assumes office. The last election was on July 31 2013.

Civil society activists argue that, as matters stand, Zimbabwe cannot hold free, fair and credible elections. They cite mainly three reasons, namely:

l The Electoral Act remains unaligned with the Constitution;

l Zec’s administrative framework lacks transparency, accountability and inclusivity; and

l The environment of electoral processes is flawed.

Muckraker agrees that the playing field is indeed uneven. But let government be warned: the world will not accept a bogus election.

Delusional Jonso

“Perennial wisdom from divine revelation and human experience dictates that all earthly things great or small, beautiful or ugly, good or bad, sad or happy, foolish or wise must finally come to an end. It is from this sobering reality that the end of executive rule has finally come for former president Robert Mugabe, who has had his better days after a quarter of century in power. That Mugabe must now go is thus no longer a dismissable opposition slogan, but a strategic necessity that desperately needs urgent legal and constitutional action by Mugabe himself, well ahead of the presidential election scheduled for March 2008, in order to safeguard Zimbabwe’s national interest, security and sovereignty”.

This was written by former Higher Education minster Jonathan Moyo in the Zimbabwe Independent in 2006. However, Moyo in an interview on the British Broadcasting Corporation programme HARDtalk last week, 12 years later, said he was proud to have served under Mugabe, who resigned in the face of embarrassing impeachment proceedings against him, triggered by a military intervention. It is perplexing that Moyo is now proud to have served a man who, in his own words, had become “a threat to the national interest”.

Has Mugabe grown younger and more efficient during that time to change Moyo’s mind to the point of being proud to serve him? It is this type of volte face that has seriously damaged Moyo’s credibility.

In the interview, he even compared Mugabe to Cuban leader Fidel Castro and described him as a man who did not get enough credit for the role he played in the country.

This is despite his inept leadership that has not only left 90% of the country without formal employment with thousands of Zimbabweans braving the crocodile-infested Limpopo River to cross illegally into South Africa, among hordes that have left the country for greener pastures.

Mugabe bequeathed the country poverty, making Zimbabwe the only country without a currency. For Moyo to be effusive in his praise of Mugabe in the interview, has exposed him for the political chameleon he is.

It is difficult to reconcile this Mugabe hagiography in the BBC interview last week by Moyo with the description he gave of the impact of Mugabe’s leadership in the 2006 article.

“One does not need to be a malcontent to see that, after 25 years of controversial rule and with the economy melting as a direct result of that rule, Mugabe’s continued stay in office has become such an excessive burden to the welfare of the state and such a fatal danger to the public interest of Zimbabweans at home and in the diaspora that each day that goes by with him in office leaves the nation’s survival at great risk, while seriously compromising national sovereignty.”

He went to laughably claim in the interview that Zimbabweans wanted to know what happened to Mugabe despite the wild celebrations sparked by his resignation.

That he also claimed only a minority had a problem with former first lady Grace Mugabe despite the widespread national revulsion at her antics and outbursts, shows that Moyo is not only a chameleon, but has also become seriously deluded.
Misplaced priorities

The euphoria that characterised the resignation of Mugabe and the rise of a new political dispensation led by Mnangagwa is fast dissipating, if it has not completely evaporated. The presentation of brand new Isuzu vehicles to chiefs by Mnangagwa in Gweru over the weekend at a time when the transacting public cannot access their money in the banks, schoolchildren are learning under trees and when patients cannot get basic medicines in the hospital, has left a bad taste in many a mouth. It is insensitive to reward chiefs, who have openly admitted that they are an extension of Zanu PF.

First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa was told during her visit to Harare Hospital last month that the national referral health institution has only two ambulances in its fleet.

Indeed, the 280 Isuzu vehicles, imported amid a crippling shortage of foreign currency, is not only shocking but also obscene. Indeed, such actions by government prove there is nothing new about the Mnangagwa administration. Mugabe is not gone — he is reborn!

The refusal to prioritise the national interest, even after the Mnangagwa regime has spoken loudly about ensuring a clean break with Mugabe’s dismal record, shows that Zimbabweans have a mountain to climb. Alliance for People’s Agenda leader Nkosana Moyo, at a rally in Mutare this week, probably summed it up best: “When I was coming today, I saw children in Grade Zero, who were walking five to eight kilometres to school and there are chiefs who are getting cars. The prioritisation is not good.” Spot-on.

MDC endgame?

What game is MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai playing? After implying in his New Year’s message on January 8 that he is stepping down as party leader, he announced that he is still in charge and that those eyeing his post should “hold their horses”.

It appears Tsvangirai prefers Nelson Chamisa to succeed him as party leader. We have nothing against the vibrant advocate, but the question arises: How wise is this decision? Does Tsvangirai really know what is at stake or is he being taken advantage of the Mugabe way? Let’s wait and see.

Masking failure, govt sells bottled smoke

Reports that the 3 700 youth workers who were fired as part of government’s measures to cut expenditure have been asked to come back to work this month shows that, yet again, Zimbabweans have been sold bottled smoke.

Labour and Social Welfare portfolio committee chairperson Magna Mudyiwa told legislators in Parliament this week that the youths received their December salaries and were told to continue reporting for work. These revelations make a mockery of Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa’s budget statement, which made the pronouncement of the fired youth workers and brings about questions as to whether the so-called new dispensation is serious or that it is a continuation of the chaos and inconsistency that characterised former president Robert’s Mugabe era. Chinamasa is not alone in the dispatch of hot air. The state-run Sunday Mail also joined in the fray with a headline loudly announcing that bond notes will be phased out. Chinamasa on Wednesday deflated the balloon of public excitement, making it clear that the fiat currency, which has ruined livelihoods of Zimbabweans, is here to stay after all. So much for the new era!

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