Zimbabwe-The Return Of The Monster Called Elections
The curtain came down on what was another tumultuous year for Zimbabweans. 180 people perished on our ever deteriorating roads, claiming the life of Zimbabwe soccer legend, Adam Ndlovu whilst badly injuring Peter. It was yet another heartbreak with the Warriors, failing dismally to finish the job in Luanda when all they needed was to park the bus. Sadly, Zimbabwean sport did not bring any solace either. The cricket team got hammered in New Zealand before being further embarrassed at the T20 world cup in Sri Lanka. We failed to bring any single medal from the Olympics in London. What a sad 2012.
Like always, President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF cronies were on their tired rhetoric, a bad habit they started since 2009, of announcing that elections will be held every year with or without the new constitution. The constitution was meant to come out in 2012 together with the referendum but we still not sure whether we are going to see any of it soon. The Christmas day deadline given by the president passed with Mugabe relaxing on some beach or hospital bed somewhere in Singapore. It is not surprising that no one takes ZANU-PF seriously anymore.
The year ended with much speculation and debate on the possibility of an election pact between the two warring factions of the MDCs led by Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube respectively. Whilst there was much gloom and despair, the biggest joke of the year has to be the deliberations and recommendations that came from the ZANU-PF conference in Gweru. It seems like age is catching up with most of those liberation fighters and comrades if their proposal of bringing back the ill-fated and the most infamous Zim-dollar is to be taken seriously. Not to be outdone, they further proposed bringing the Chinese, Brazilian and even Russian currencies to work hand in hand with the US dollar and the South African rand. At times it feels like old-age is catching up with our legendary leader, who will be turning 89 this year, a shed from being 90, and a further decade from being a hundred, yes a hundred.
As 2012 came to an end, doomsday prophets had most people firmly fooled that the world was going to end because the Mayans made us believe that. For all things and events that will happen in 2013, there is one thing that is of most concern to Zimbabwe and the region as a whole. This is more so because another monster in the form of the GPA and the government of national unity is coming to an end in June 2013, paving way for a fresh wave of elections. Taking a peek at the last elections in 2008, Zimbabwe could do without any reminder of them but it is a fact that is no longer in our hands. It is something that has to happen. The partners in the GPA could do without each other at present, they have hardly cooperated with each other since the GNU came into existence. Five years down the line the reforms that were supposed to be implemented by the principals are still outstanding, the constitutional making process in the form of COPAC has been reduced to a joke.
So much money has been pumped into the process and yet the process is still ages from being complete. The egos in ZANU-PF and their two coalition partners in the GNU are too big and because of them failing to swallow their pride this constitution process is going to drag on forever. ZANU-PF is already preaching that the President, Robert Mugabe, will dissolve parliament and announce a date for the elections soon. Remember he has been saying that since 2009, only him knows when he will get serious with his figures.
Whatever happens, whether the new constitution will ever see the light of the day is that elections might happen, albeit under the old constitution. That slim possibility of elections will send shivers across any Zimbabwean that was there to witness 2008 first hand. The reality is that at present, the conditions in Zimbabwe will not guarantee a free and fair election. The scars of 2008 are still fresh. The perpetrators of that orchestrated that violent wave are still roaming freely in the streets, the long arm of justice having evaded them without any struggle. Those who lost their limbs, those infamous long sleeve and short sleeve where people’s hands were cut because they were termed to be subscribing to the wrong party, they still do not have their limbs and elections this year are not going to do anything to heal their wounds.
Electoral reforms, media reforms and the security sector reforms are still more or less the same like they were in 2008. Running an election under those very same conditions, coupled with the Lancaster House constitution, only suggests gloom for Zimbabweans. People were forced to buy certain party cards to ensure their safety, the youth service militia, the Green Bombers together with the Mbare based Chipangano, terrorized people resulting in thousands fleeing their beloved country fearing for their lives. The fear and possibility of state sponsored violence is still fresh in people’s minds. The law in Zimbabwe is still applied selectively according to party subscription if we are to take into account the Solomon Madzore spent months in remand for the Glen View police murder yet the perpetrators of 2008 are roaming freely and ready to torment people for a fresh series of violent escapades against members of the former opposition party, the MDC factions in this imminent election.
SADC has of late been coming to our rescue against Mugabe’s threat of elections, standing firm on their word that they will not recognize the election if proper reforms are not implemented. Yes SADC will make all the necessary noise but when it comes to the day of the election, they will not be there on the ground to suffer through the violence and intimidation that people will face. Remember 2008, SADC was there and what did their appointed mediator, Thabo Mbeki, do as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission withheld elections and people were being beaten, he came on international TV saying “Crisis? What crisis? There is no crisis in Zimbabwe.”
This just goes to show that after all their deliberations and recommendation at international hotels, SADC will not be there when people’s limbs are being cut. They will not be there justice is being applied selectively. They will not be there when children, women and the elderly are being intimidated and beaten. No, they will not be there. A new round of elections, even the referendum for the new constitution, will be met by some resistance and no one wants to lose. The youths will be used as pawns in this political warfare to instill fear in the people. The people of Zimbabwe are the ones who will suffer more from this.
Until all reforms are implemented, international observers present, a new constitution that guarantees a free and fair election, Zimbabweans are better off without this imminent election. Well if results are withheld and manipulated, what is the point of even going ahead with the election when it means putting someone who has lost an election as head of the country? Zimbabweans are too tolerant, we are not like our brothers in the Arab world and because of that we are better off with this current monster of the GNU because elections are a much bigger monster that can bring more strife, loss and pain to the people. Can we survive 2013 without this monster called elections? Only the Lord knows
David Hwangwa is a Human Rights Activist and Political commentator