Zimbabwe; what if ZANU (PF) wins

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe greets crowds during his 88th birthday rally in Mutare about 265km (165miles) east of the capital Harare, February 25, 2012. Mugabe turned 88 on Tuesday. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE – Tags: POLITICS)

Never say never, because politics is an unpredictable and dirty game.

A colleague of mine posed to me a very fascinating mental challenge the other day. She challenged me to imagine what would happen to Zimbabwe if ZANU (PF) won the next elections and became the next legitimately elected government. I laughed at her, saying that that is definitely the most ridiculous thought I have heard this year. However since that conversation, the possibility of an outright majority win by ZANU (PF) in the next elections in Zimbabwe has somehow kept my mind occupied. It is an issue that I am compelled to seriously contemplate upon because as we all know, never say never, especially in politics

I therefore cannot continue to ignore a likely scenario where ZANU (PF) attains the majority of the vote and remains the majority governing party in Zimbabwe until 2018. To ghastly to contemplate for sure.

Let me share with my readers a true story. A black small holder tobacco farmer was seen weeping outside the tobacco floors just outside Harare. Asked what was wrong with him, he said that nothing was wrong at all. In fact, he was just so happy and overwhelmed because he was holding in his hand, a cheque for USD6, 000 made out to him. In his entire life, he said that he had never imagined that he could own such a huge amount of money. Thank God for Mugabe, he said, because if it was not for him, a black farmer like him would never have had such an opportunity. He would definitely vote for Mugabe anytime, because it was Mugabe who chased away the whites who used to make all the money and now it was his turn.

That about sums up the conundrum we are faced with. The majority of rural Zimbabweans, where the most votes reside, are poor and seem easily swayed by crafty political gimmicks. Give them a piece of land to farm on, some inputs and empty promises for a better future, and then you are most likely to get their vote. This is beside the fact that they may never own that piece of land on which they farm on. They are caught in a cycle of low expectations and subsistence survival.  They cannot imagine a much better life than that which they have already attained and ZANU (PF) has over the years, mastered just how to capitalize on that.

It has since dawned on me, that these are the very people that are likely to determine my destiny through their vote, simply because of their numbers. They most definitely do not have the same concerns and aspirations as I have, but unfortunately, they have a big say in my future. That is why I think a majority vote system where all votes are equal, and winner takes all is the worst form of democracy. In my opinion, mass opinion is the worst enemy of progress because, the masses are almost always wrong when it comes to politics and economics. All you have to do is to look across Africa.

Now, if ZANU (PF) wins the next elections, it will be the rural folk that deliver power to them as I am convinced that Zimbabwean urbanites are ready for This of course excludes the ZANU(PF) patronage brigade in all sectors who will vote to maintain their lifestyle. I am forced, therefore, not to write this scenario off as impracticable, but to anticipate the likely consequences.

I imagine that if this happens, the international community will have to accept the choice of the majority of Zimbabweans and remove any financial restrictions that are now in place. If they insist that Mugabe must go, ZANU (PF) may quickly replace him as he is due to retire anyway. That could then hopefully result in a more moderate leader, who would then offer an olive branch to the MDC and establish a coalition government in order to present an acceptable front to the world. The dilemma is whether the MDC would accept such an arrangement.

This would be the best case scenario I think. However, the downside is that it may lead to more of the same, where economic recovery will be very slow and the ownership structures of the economy, business activity and public enterprises remain intact and under the control and direction of ZANU (PF). Indigenization would most probably be ramped up and we are likely to see very little foreign direct investment. The economy would have a glass ceiling while our projected economic growth will hardly be achievable; we will therefore achieve very little, very slowly.

In such a scenario, Zimbabweans in the Diaspora would definitely not return, nor would we see any significant shift in national development priorities. In other words, we would be stuck with the devil we know for another five years. That would be distressing.

I do think that ZANU (PF) would be pleasantly surprised of such a development, while the MDC will have failed to deliver democracy to the masses.

The worst case scenario would be increasing political arrogance, the stifling of the opposition and the continued misguided indigenization rhetoric of ZANU (PF). This would result in an enclave economy characterized by increasing poverty, lack of development and the consolidation of political and economic power by the army and the ZANU (PF) cabal. We cannot write this possibility off and must continue to pray that this will not happen.

To be prudent, I think we need to factor the above scenarios into our thinking and planning for next year because politics is an unpredictable and dirty game. We just have to hope for the best and do whatever we can to avoid the continued domination by ZANUPF). However given the history of Zimbabweans, I am nervous that most will accept whatever scenario and once again wait for divine intervention.

The slow grinding wheel of change will once again be with us.

Aluta continua!

Vince Musewe is an independent economist in Harare and you may contact him on vtmusewe@gmail.com

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