Zimbabwe: No reforms no elections…Period!
By Ben Semwayo
Zimbabwe’s opposition politicians have recently turned the heat on Zanu PF, speaking with one voice to demand sweeping reforms that will guarantee a free and fair election. This development marks a major u-turn by the opposition movements, which had hitherto naively announced that free and fair elections could be held without the proposed changes, apparently jolted into facing reality by the unutterably deplorable pronouncements persistently made by some benighted, partisan officials in the top echelons of the security forces.
Zanu PF has fiercely resisted any attempts to level the playing field in relation to factors such as the Joint Operations Command, the Electoral commission, the updating of the voters’ roll, the freeing of the airwaves and the ending of state-sponsored violence. All these have always, and are still operating in a way that grossly violates the people’s rights as they are atrociously skewed in favour of Zanu PF. These have been the vital instruments that Zanu PF has used to steal all the previous elections. It is a cause for celebration that the opposition parties have at last awakened to this uncivilized infringement of the basic principles of democracy. It is difficult to understand why they did not do it sooner.
MDC-T, the biggest of the opposition parties, has declared in no uncertain terms that it will not countenance the former shenanigans of Zanu PF, which trampled the law at will and rigged election after election in broad daylight. We hope the MDC will be resolute, and not retract its position, as it has a history of developing cold feet after making threats, which is perhaps its greatest undoing. Regrettably there is already a subtle hint that it is about to do so.
Gift Phiri, a senior writer with the Daily Mail, reports in the 7 December 2011 edition of the paper that Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC spokesman, said Zanu PF party can still be forced via internal and regional pressure to fulfil “the majority of obligations” they signed to under the power sharing Global Political Agreement (GPA). This shows that there is a shift in emphasis in relation to what the MDC is demanding. There is a softening of position, a premature offering of concession that characterises the bargaining approach of the MDC. It is a defeatist approach that many Zimbabweans find disturbing. Instead of demanding the full implementation of the requirements of the GPA they are sending out the signal that they are content only with the implementation of the majority of the obligations, and that comes in the wake of the numerous concessions they have already given, when Zanu PF has given none. The lesson they have yet to learn is that you give Zanu PF an inch, and they will take a mile.
There is absolutely no reason why the MDC should not demand the full implementation of the agreement because doing it any other way would be criminal, and they should not expect any absolution from the people of Zimbabwe who gave them the mandate to terminate the rule of an evil, oppressive regime.
Clearly the position taken by Zanu PF on the conditions under which the elections are to be held is untenable, to say the least. Although it was trounced in the last elections it still believes it is its prerogative to fire the shots in Zimbabwe and have its demands met regardless of how preposterous they may be. There is no way, for example, Zimbabweans can go to the polls with the electoral commission jam-packed with guilty, die-hard Zanu PF agents who know full well that the axe is hovering over their heads, or the police and army clearly being instruments of Zanu PF and driving terror into people’s hearts when they should be protecting them.
The real problem is that the party is behaving like a spoilt toddler who is accustomed to having his way in every situation. Mugabe and his coterie have for a long time lavished on their disproportionate power that they use both to oppress the masses and to transform themselves into mega-rich individuals while the rest of the people languish in grinding poverty, with nothing to eat. They have created a formidable image for themselves by which they hoodwink Zimbabweans into believing that their preferred political choices are oracles that no-one should dare oppose. They are headstrong, and once they have taken a position that suits their selfish interests they will not listen to reason and will conjure up the most flimsy arguments for maintaining that stance. They do not even care whether anybody is convinced because they just use the national resources to press ahead with implementing their evil plans, and no-one has the clout to stop them as, like the Mafia that they are, they will not hesitate to shed blood to pave the way for their desired predetermined outcomes.
Mugabe has recently told his politburo that they should work towards the holding of the elections, ignoring the MDC’s voice of reason calling for requisite reforms, which is an indispensable step towards the holding of free and fair elections. This clearly shows that he and his party are hell-bent on rigging the elections again, and nothing will detract them from that malevolent way of staying in power. They are so determined to do it their own way that if the SADC insists on following the requirements of the GNU agreement they would rather pull out of the SADC altogether, in the same way that they dragged that country out of the Commonwealth. To them the only people worth listening to are people who speak their language, people who lend support to their warped way of thinking, such as the late Gaddaffi who stood by them through thick and thin.
Douglas Mwonzora has said it is not yet time to talk about elections: we should in fact be talking about making the necessary reforms that make free and fair elections possible. In essence he is saying first things first – creating the conditions that are conducive to successful elections should come before the holding of the elections. That is simple and straight forward and any sensible person should not find that hard to understand. Yet Zanu PF hardliners continue to pretend not to see the logic behind that approach.
Augustine Chihuri reportedly refused to attend a meeting of the JOMIC. Do you know his reason? Well…the MDC is pursuing a foreign agenda. By interpretation what he is saying is that it is the foreign countries that want free and fair elections; we do not want them. It is regrettable when such shallow-minded people find themselves in positions of power, where they are only concerned with further entrenching their hold on power for the purpose of self-glorification. Martin Rupiya, a retired defence forces officer currently at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, rightly remarked that intransigence is a Chihuri trademark.
The MDC is left with no choice but to exert pressure on Zanu PF in its quest for a lasting solution to the country’s never-ending woes. Only a legitimate government can pluck Zimbabwe out of its current challenges, and to achieve that a level playing field must be put in place. Political reforms are long overdue.