Why Zim is failing to hold elections


My views on the Copac draft constitution are well-documented in the public domain.
For the avoidance of doubt and also out of an abundance of caution, I reiterate that I am strongly in support of the Copac draft constitution that was signed by the relevant parties in the small hours of July 18, 2012.

With all its numerous and indeed, pretty obvious shortcomings, I endorse the said draft constitution as a significant step towards the democratisation agenda.

The purpose of this opinion piece is not to defend the Copac draft constitution because I have already done so in an earlier article. My main thrust will be to unmask and expose the real problem behind Zimbabwe’s chronic failure to hold elections that pass the test of legitimacy over the years.

Amongst several other requirements, a new constitution is one of the key deliverables that was expected to be borne by the forced marriage that is commonly referred to as the Government of National Unity (GNU).

That it has taken almost four years to come up with a Copac draft constitution is true testimony to the virtual disfunctionality of the so-called inclusive government that came into existence in February, 2009.

And that at least one political party in the Government of National Unity (GNU) is now virulently opposed to the Copac draft constitution is again true testimony to the dishonesty, chicanery and sheer obscurantism that has been the hallmark of this creature called the Inclusive Government.

Whilst the GNU became almost a necessity at the time of its formation in February, 2009, I would boldly state that this “marriage” has largely been an exercise in futility and that it has long since outlived its welcome.

Put bluntly, the GNU is no longer fit for purpose. It is true that the GNU saved Zimbabwe from economic and socio-political collapse at the time of its formation. It is equally true that the GNU managed to stabilise the economy that had virtually collapsed and also that it also brought some modicum of peace and political stability over the past few years. Beyond these few positive aspects, the continued existence of the so-called Inclusive Government is no longer tenable.

Unfortunately, Zanu PF has abused and misused its dominant position in the GNU to ensure that the other parties to the GNU, namely the two MDC formations, are reduced to mere appendages with neither real executive power nor a strong bargaining position.

Zanu PF has used the period of the GNU to save itself from virtual disintegration and also to make sure that it strengthens its hold on the levers of State power; particularly the security and law enforcement apparatus.

Zanu PF has maintained its vice-like grip on these real instruments of State power.

On the other hand, the MDC formations have been burdened with the task of running the social delivery aspect of the GNU.

These two parties were allocated ministries such as finance, health, labour and energy; ministries that are essentially tasked with running the social delivery agenda of any government in the world.

It has to be appreciated that the MDC side of government has worked its socks off to ensure that each and every family in Zimbabwe, at least, has one square meal on the table on a daily basis.

The MDC has made sure that schools and hospitals were promptly re-opened and equipped with the necessary tools to ensure that they function.

It is the MDC that made sure that inflation was reined in and also that foreign direct investment (FDI) is aggressively pursued.

On its part, Zanu PF is not particularly bothered about whether or not the generality of the people have food on their table.

Zanu PF is obsessed bwith political and military power.

For as long as they continue to tenaciously control the military and other security organs of the State, they don’t care one iota what happens to the social delivery agenda of the government.

They just love power as an end in itself.

Once in a while, they will raise their voice and pretend that they really care about the welfare of the ordinary people. They will devise ruinous economic policies such as the totally disastrous so-called indigenisation programme and the ill-fated and notoriously poorly designed community share trusts.

The long and short of it is that Zanu PF has never really cared about the people.

This is a political party that is still, essentially, in liberation war mode.

To them power is the alpha and omega of their very existence. Whether or not the ordinary people are leading an existence that is suitable for human beings has never been on Zanu PF’s agenda.

Hence, this is a party that has unashamedly run down one of Africa’s most sophisticated economies into a rag tag economy dominated by vendors, flea markets and liquor outlets.

That, indeed, has been the hallmark of Zanu PF misrule, misgovernance and general dereliction of governmental responsibility.

My argument is that we need more than a new draft constitution to hold free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

While a new democratic constitution is an essential requirement for a new Zimbabwe that is economically prosperous and politically stable, there are other factors that have to be seriously taken into account as well.

For instance, the state-controlled print and electronic media is toxic in the extreme. Watching Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) television news is a most hazardous exercise. You will experience crude and sterile propaganda that will even shock the likes of Josef Goebbels and Benito Mussolini.

The ZBC has perfected the “art” of spreading hate and malice against perceived enemies of Zanu PF.

Day-in and day-out, the ZBC spews amateurish and sterile propaganda that will embarrass even the most die-hard Zanu PF supporters.

Little wonder, therefore, that almost every household in both urban and rural Zimbabwe now has a satellite dish!

Thus, we need genuine opening up of the media, particularly the electronic media, before Zimbabwe can run an election that will pass the test of both regional and international legitimacy.

At least the print media has seen the establishment of privately-owned newspapers that has brought a breath of fresh air to print journalism.

The past few months have seen the establishment of two radio stations to compete with ZBC radio. Let me take this opportunity to applaud Star FM for at least trying to come up with balanced radio programmes where alternative political voices are given an opportunity to air their views.

Big up to Admire Taderera and Tichafa Matambanadzo on this one!

If ZBC want to survive the competition, they should certainly take a leaf from Star FM otherwise within the next few months all the four ZBC radio stations will be as dead as the dodo of Mauritius.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) should be cleaned out and all security agents should be removed from the secretariat. Zec should be a truly independent and well-resourced constitutional commission that is empowered to run elections in an impartial and transparent fashion.

All the ghosts of the Central Intelligence Organisation ( CIO) that are presently masquerading as the Zec secretariat should be removed before the holding of the forthcoming historic make or make elections in 2013. A completely new voters’ roll has to be complied by Zec and not by Tobaiwa Mudede’s office.

All ghost and deceased voters have to be removed from the new voters’ roll. More importantly, the recently completed national census should come up with accurate data regarding Zimbabwe’s population in rural, urban and peri-urban areas.

In addition, Zec should proceed to carry out a transparent and scientific delimitation exercise once the data from Zimstat has been made available.

 All political players should be accorded free and unrestricted access to campaign throughout the length and breath of Zimbabwe. There should be no intimidation of voters and indeed, the concept of so-called “no go” areas for certain political parties should be totally abolished.

Political parties should be free to hold rallies and other associated meetings from the Zambezi to the Limpopo; from Tamandayi to Malipati and from Mt.Selinda to Jotsholo.

All men and women in uniform should not be actively involved in politics.

Should they want to be active political players, they should promptly resign from the uniformed forces, surrender their guns and thereafter, join some of us in the hustle and bustle of Zimbabwean politics.

We immensely respect our uniformed forces but most certainly, we should not and indeed, we don’t fear them.

Zimbabwe has been in political doldrums for way too long. We expect the new generation of politicians to take this great nation to the next level.

In fact, it is our generational responsibility to ensure that Zimbabwe does not become a failed state.

Should we accomplish our mission of democratising Zimbabwe and building a new sovereign republic on a firm foundation of respect for fundamental human rights and unity in diversity, I will gladly remove myself from active politics and go back to Negona Chambers to pursue my first passion which is the practice of law.

Obert Gutu is the Senator for Chisipite in Harare. He is also the MDC Harare provincial spokesperson as well as the deputy minister of Justice and Legal Affairs.

He is also the Africa Heritage Society goodwill ambassador for Justice and Messenger of Peace. – Obert Gutu

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