Zimbabwe Election 2013: A Hollow Zimbabwean Election
Five years ago, in March of 2008, Zimbabwe seemed on the precipice of transformational change. After the most democratic elections in the country’s history, it was widely assumed that dictatorial leader Robert Mugabe had lost to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, with mutliple international media outlets going as far as to report that Mugabe was figuring out how to transfer power. Instead,in a rapid about face, Mugabe’s Zanu PF party once again rigged the polls, ensuring that Tsvangirai’s Movement for a Democratic Change (MDC) party came in just under the required 50 percent, which would have prevented a run-off. During the next six weeks, Mugabe and his cronies engaged in a campaign of terror, killing and torturing hundreds of opposition candidates, resulting in a sham of an election, and ensuring their victory.
Five years later, on July 31, Zimbabwe will hold its next presidential election. But as close as Zimbabwe was to change in 2008, it is that far from it now. Despite a seemingly historic power-sharing agreement brokered after the 2008 election between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, and the ushering in of a new constitution, the country is more splintered than ever. In the last five years, Zimbabwe has taken a step back.
Despite having nearly finished college in Zimbabwe, I now work as a handy-man in Johannesburg, unable to procure more gainly employment in my home country. Even after leaving, I remained an enthusiastic follower of Zimbabwe’s politics. I wanted the situation to change, so badly. Having dropped out of college because I could no longer afford to continue my studies, I was frustrated with the rapid deterioration of the social, political and economic situation of my people.
I became tired of the blatant lies by Mugabe and his cronies, and I could not tolerate the incessant nationalistic propaganda omnipresent throughout the state controlled media, which focused on the continued promises for a better future: promises forever unfulfilled. I hoped for a better day with Tsvangirai ‘s MDC. But after rigged elections throughout the last decade, culminating with the debacle of 2008, I have given up hope in our elections. I began to see them as a waste of time and energy, and I stopped voting, vowing not to participate again until the process became fairer.
Fast forward to 2013, and Zimbabwe is just a day out from another crucial election. Seemingly, this marks a chance for every Zimbabwean to finally take control of our collective destiny. But nothing has changed, and the situation is depressingly familiar and discouraging. Our dictator in residence still has the state machinery at his disposal and the public media is still a mouthpiece for his party, relentlessly spewing the same tired nationalistic propaganda, blaming the West for all of our economic plight. The recently passed Constitution, which coincided with the power-sharing agreement, provided hope of potential democratic reforms before the election, but those hopes proved far-fetched. Read More