2023: A very damp squib

Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga

THE 2023 general elections look like they are going to be the stupidest, craziest ones that Zimbabwe is ever going to see running into the next century.

That’s not just heavily pessimistic; it’s true, taking away the doom-saying.

The old timers will remember. The 1980 elections were held at what you might call short notice.

The Lancaster House negotiations wound up in late 1979, December I think. But, by early April, we already had not only elections, but a new government in place.

Election campaigns, despite all the odds after an intense war against (and for) colonialism, started with much energy just into the year. There were good contenders too.

Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF. Joshua Nkomo and PF Zapu.

Well, there was also Ian Smith and his Rhodesian Front, Abel Muzorewa with his UANC and Ndabaningi Sithole and Zanu Ndonga.

The last three, despite being jokers — bad fighters — they were colourful and everyone got their money’s worth seeing and participating in the elections.

1985 was, well, still an interesting election because of the contestants and the issues, even though the colour had gone out somewhat.

The 1990 one would have been a damp squid/squib were it not that Edgar “Two Boy” Tekere threw his pipe — pun appropriate — to challenge long-time buddy, Robert Mugabe.

But his ZUM lost the energy too soon and 1995 was a yawning affair because it was more or less a one-horse thing.

Then came 2000 and 2002, the parliamentary and presidential election years, respectively.

The birth of MDC added a yet unseen life to the polls. For the first time since independence, Mugabe and Zanu PF faced a real and serious existential threat.

The blood and years that came with those elections aside, history will easily remember them.

Point is, outside the verve that marked the notable elections above, there were issues to talk about.

In 1980, it was about people’s power against colonial rule.

In 2000, it was about people’s power against post-colonial black rule or, if you were/are Zanu PF, post-colonial black rule against neo-colonialism.

2008 was still exciting, thanks mostly to the emergence of Simba Makoni as an offshoot of Zanu PF.

The main issue remained post-colonial black rule against the people or, read otherwise, Robert Mugabe’s refusal to go after ruinous rule.

The rest is history. Just fast forward to this year.

A mite over a month before we go to the polls, we don’t have a single party that has produced a manifesto to show what it is going to do for the people.

Yet you already see these jokers gallivanting around the country or on Twitter claiming that they offer the best opportunity. On what?

How do you expect people to decide whether or not they must vote you in if you don’t tell them what you are going to be delivering?

The biggest thing about Zanu PF and its presidential candidate, Emmerson Mnangagwa is that they are still stuck in history.

They want you to vote them  merely by verbally telling you they fought colonialism and white subjugation.

They want to be voted on the basis of what they did donkey years ago, instead of what they will do in the future. 

Nelson Chamisa is as clueless as he has always been. If you don’t see him on Twitter draped in false likes, impressions and retweets, you don’t see him at all.

To hell with the lame excuse that Zanu PF is banning CCC rallies.

That has always been the case, so there must be a solution.

He must have fought to get Job Sikhala, a former history student at UZ out, to tell him something about Zimbabwean politics.

They never give it to you on a silver plate.

All those guys such as Robert Mugabe — Mnangagwa even—spent long years in prison for holding rallies and all that sort.

Politics is not for crybabies in Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai went through that persecution together with his party, where Chamisa was a senior member.

 But he never watched things from behind the curtains. Curtains are stuff for cowards and opportunists.

Besides, you don’t hear anything from Chamisa except the disused Twitter dung about how he and his party — or is it one?—are going to take over power and start ruling the people.

 For the what?

Honestly, we must hear real stuff, real ideas, real depth from people who reckon they can rule us. It’s clever to campaign on the basis of the failures of the incumbents, but cleverer and more useful to say what you are going to do when the losers go.

This preoccupation with power; that’s what has gotten us into this apparently inescapable mess. We saw too much about it with Mugabe.

 Mnangagwa is more concerned with himself getting a second term than Zanu PF winning the polls.

That’s why he has created Faz and those 4EDs. That’s why he hasn’t delivered a manifesto to the people.

Chamisa is darting in the same direction.

He has actually declared that this election is about the presidency and not the party or whatever cult he has created.

It’s clear now. It’s all about him.

No real issues, except pentecostically personal issues about him ruling after some shrine prophecy he got somewhere.

What he doesn’t seem to be thinking about is what taking over as president when Zanu PF has won a majority means for him and opposition politics.

Would it be tenable for him to be president over a Zanu PF-dominated Parliament? What about those security hawks?

Does he think they will just pack up and let him rule?

What about the deep civil bureaucracy that he has far much more to lose if he takes over than if he is beaten?

He is not talking about these things, not even on his new-found home on social media.

We are in election time, but there is no feeling about that. It’s business as unusual.

Tawanda Majoni writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on [email protected]

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