HARARE – The menacing build-up to a watershed election likely to be held in July seems like a replay of the violent, rigged elections that have plagued Zimbabwe over the past decade.
Last week Tsvangirai helplessly watched his staffers being remanded in prison — in what analysts say is a repeat of the days precluding the coalition government when houses were burnt and police in complete disregard of the law arrested civic organisations leaders such as Jestina Mukoko.
Four years on, human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa is experiencing the same fate endured by the likes of Mukoko as the State denies her bail.
Tsvangirai, a former trade unionist who has been jailed before, is keenly aware of the fact that Zanu PF wants to employ the same “dirty” tactics it used in 2008 to remain in power in a potent poll that many believe will be a fierce contest between the two bitter rivals.
“The targeting of my office is reprehensible and is meant to harass and intimidate the nation ahead of the election, now that we are done with the referendum,” said Tsvangirai.
Perhaps the honeymoon for Mugabe and Tsvangirai who have over the past four years considerably warmed up to each other is over — as the tension get taut ahead of the crunch polls where both leaders expect to win.
A referendum which was the toast of the two leaders’ pact government passed on with little incident — but a few days after the draft — the government is disintegrating.
Last week alone six people linked directly or indirectly to Tsvangirai were arrested — the month of February was even worse after a schoolboy was charred to ashes in an inferno in Manicaland.
The police widely regarded as Mugabe’s buttress have been knee-deep in the unravelling drama.
Although it is given that factionalism in Zanu PF could destroy the liberation movement — the police force and the army are united respectively under Augustine Chihuri and Constantine Chiwenga — two men who have vowed never to allow Mugabe to lose power.
“It is through your visionary leadership sir that we held a peaceful referendum. As we prepare for harmonised elections, we warn on hooligans who will try to cause mayhem and violence that the Zimbabwe Republic Police will deal with them harshly,” police recruits chanted in praise of Chihuri as they graduated last week.
With Tsvangirai apparently powerless — against a security sector that is still to be tempered by the Global Political Agreement (GPA) agreed reforms — other leaders like Welshman Ncube doubt the civilian authority of the government of national unity (GNU).
“This lawlessness is painting a picture of a country that is fast descending into chaos. This worsening political situation only goes to prove that Tsvangirai and Mugabe are either not as in charge as they wish us to believe or are happy with it.
“We therefore call upon Sadc to intervene and ensure that the perpetrators are bought to book since Mugabe and Tsvangirai will not do it themselves,” Ncube’s MDC said through its spokesperson Nhlanhla Dube.
Since the emergence of the MDC as a formidable opposition party in 2000 elections have been blighted by violence — and events of the past few months seem to be the epilogue to that same ailment according to analysts.