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Zanu PF building up election narrative

By Roger Smoko

IN the year leading up to the 2018 harmonised elections there was much talk about Zanu PF winning a two-thirds majority in parliament.

In The Herald and ZBC it was treated as a foregone conclusion. The two outlets harped on the efforts of the then nascent New Dispensation and the divisions and near riot in the opposition.

Lo and behold Zanu PF did win a two-thirds majority in the legislature.

Was this a case of political perspicacity or was it something more Machiavellian? Knowing Zanu PF, it has to be the latter. All the talk in the media was intended to create a sense of the inevitability of a ruling party victory. It was merely perception management.

The result was planted and reinforced as fait accompli in the minds of the people.

The reasons were clearly and logically set out so that to question them could be dismissed as dysfunctional thinking and counter intuitive.

The conclusion therefore is that Zanu PF knew the extent to which it was going to rig and how.

The subtleties of this did not matter, the exigencies of the moment were to hide the rigging in plain view.

There is no need to really hide the rigging because to whom can the aggrieved go for redress — to Sadc?

They know this sort of stuff goes on in Zimbabwe.

The courts?

They are part of the system; remember they have refused to reverse Dexter Nduna’s stolen seat in parliament.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission?

Well its choke full of state security (therefore Zanu PF) operatives.

But all the above are not at issue here. What is, is the systematic and long term nature of the rigging.

There appears to be a well thought out graduated effort to squeeze the MDC out of Zimbabwean politics.

In 2008, MDC won both the parliamentary and presidential elections.

In 2013 they had 34% of the vote to Zanu PF’s 62%, then in 2018 they suffered a crushing defeat.

In 2023, the margin of defeat will be even greater.

How is this fact apparent?

Because soon after the 2018 election, Zanu PF, The Herald and ZBC began talking about the magical five million votes.

This number was not randomly plucked out of the air or some late soiree in the Zanu PF headquarters.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa got 2,4 million votes while Chamisa had 2,1 million. This means that less than 5 million votes were cast.

In other words, Zanu PF is saying ‘We are aiming for and going to get at least 90% of the vote casts come 2023.”

A number of reasons have been given why this is not only achievable but inevitable by the usual ruling party mouth pieces and even some of the independent media.

Chief among them is the shambolic status quo in the opposition ranks.

Much more is made of this than actually obtains. To the casual observer this does hold much truck because after all two years before the elections nobody really knows who is the MDC-A?

What name will Chamisa campaign under?

Secondly, there are the much hyped defections from the opposition MDC Alliance.

These are sardonically held up as the proverbial rats jumping a sinking ship. If ranking members of the opposition can defect, how much more so the ordinary members who have nothing to show for the blood and tears of opposition politics?

Thirdly, the mismanagement in the urban councils is trumpeted and headlined by the arrests of council officials. The urban voters must abandon the MDC Alliance after all they bear the brunt of the chaos and corruption in the urban centres.

Lastly, the achievements of the Second Republic are celebrated and magnified.

Roads are being repaired, hospitals built and corruption stamped out. The list of achievements is seemingly endless. The opposition besmirched and decimated cannot be logically expected to win any votes.

Who would not vote for Zanu PF?

All these seem disparate and unrelated but they are building up the narrative of an inevitable Zanu PF victory. For the win has always been guaranteed.

All that is needed is to justify it.

But why does Zanu PF need the five million votes and a crushing victory in the upcoming polls?

The defections give an insight into just how important this figure is. It is a well-established fact that the opposition ranks are heavily infiltrated by Zanu PF/CIO elements. So the defections have merely been a calling home of these deep cover fifth columnists.

The scary part is that the ruling party feels that attaining those five million votes is so important that it has decided to sacrifice so many of its first generation spies/agitators in the MDC to achieve it.

If any of these figures had genuinely changed their allegiance, Zanu PF would have kept them in place embedded in the MDC as valuable sources of intelligence and as agent provocateurs.

MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora too has been accused of being a Zanu PF front. The only explanation must be that for the ruling party the five million votes push is the end game and thus is worth the sacrifice.

That end game is the destruction of opposition politics in Zimbabwe and a return to the de facto one party system that obtained in the 1980s into the 1990s. The aim appears to be to inflict a crushing and justifiable electoral defeat on the MDC-A in 2023.

The opposition party riven as it is by divisions, Zanu PF plants, squeezed for funding and wearied by the perennial electoral defeats will not survive such a seismic defeat. The remaining Zanu PF plants within the MDC-A will no doubt be instructed to raise Cain in its ranks and demand Chamisa’s head.

The recent opposition victory in Zambia that had seemed so portentous and hitherto buoyed the MDC-A would be used as ammunition against Chamisa.

Political scientists have pointed out that Mnangagwa’s dream is to emulate the Chinese economic and political model. The destruction of the MDC-A is therefore a priority, once it is done away with focus, he can then shift to economic development so that the economic malaise that led to the formation of the MDC never obtains again.

When first Robert Mugabe then Mnangagwa then said never to an opposition political victory in Zimbabwe they meant it and have set out to defy the fate of never saying never. It looks like Mnangagwa has come up with a blueprint for achieving this.

The MDC-A must therefore brace for more subterfuge this election cycle than they have ever faced before.

They must expect every impediment to be thrown in their path, divisions will arise within their ranks, the courts will make dodgy rulings; in short no effort will be spared to achieve the five million votes.

The newly registered Farai Zhou/Varaidzo Musungo Citizens Converge for Change political party is a timely warning.

Knowing what Zanu PF intends to do is one thing, stopping it is an altogether different proposition, and a potentially lethal one at that.

Nelson Chamisa be warned.

  • Smoko is a political commentator and pro-democracy activist.

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