HARARE – All the three main political parties have conducted their primary elections amid revelations of discrepancies, violence, vote rigging, among other issues.
It is, however, important to unpack some lessons that can be drawn from these primary elections and assess their implications to the forthcoming harmonised elections.
Intra-political violence has been recorded across the country for both the MDC and Zanu PF primary elections.
What can be noted in such cases of violence is that violence is now entrenched in Zimbabwean politics as a tool of influencing behaviour and political outcome. As such, the major problem confronting the new government is transforming the political culture of this nation.
The reaction of the police in alleged violent cases during the primaries for both Zanu PF and MDC is worth mentioning.
It is therefore, anticipated that the police will continue to react swiftly with impartiality when Zimbabweans go to the harmonised elections. In fact, the police set a standard regarding what they are supposed to do during the forthcoming elections. In most cases, inter-party political violence is the most deadly in Zimbabwe.
The primary elections have also exposed the lack of preparedness among some political parties. From the manner in which the parties conducted their primaries, it appears as if mainstream MDC is way ahead of other political parties in terms of its readiness to participate in the harmonised elections.
However, if it is prepared then, the question is why the party is pushing for the extension of election date. This question
appears simple especially to Zanu PF who will point to fear of election defeat.
However, a critical analysis of the situation on the ground shows that there is a lot that needs to be done before elections are conducted. Thus, to expect reforms after elections becomes unfair especially when more than three parties are calling for such reforms. What can be deduced is that those clamouring for elections are not banking on their preparedness but on the electoral systems that can be manipulated.
Analysts used results from the primary elections to assess the preparedness of political parties in the forthcoming harmonised elections. Thus in the State-controlled media it is said that high voter turnout in Zanu PF primaries indicates that Zanu PF has resurrected.
While the voter turnout has been high in some selected areas such as parts of Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East provinces the figures should not give the contestants a green light for nothing much has changed compared with previous elections. What is important is to compare those figures with the previous harmonised election results. After such an analysis then one can be able to justify that Zanu PF has rejuvenated from political oblivion.
For instance in Chegutu West, the 7028 votes garnered by the Zanu PF winning candidate has been touted as an indication that the party will win the harmonised elections, yet the figure is just slightly above the votes garnered by mainstream MDC in 2008.
Therefore, if one is to add new voters who became eligible since 2009 and the aliens who are now eligible to vote one can realise that there is nothing to celebrate but more to fear. In Marondera Central, Zanu PF’s Ray Kaukonde got slightly above
3 000 votes yet Kay won in 2008 by over 8 000 votes against Zanu PF candidate who was trailing with some 3 000 votes. Thus, there is an uphill task for Kaukonde in that constituency.
Constituencies with such situation are many. In Matobo North MDC in 2008 won with 3 503 yet the total votes for Zanu PF primaries are above 2 000 votes way below what their candidate garnered in 2008. The only areas for Zanu PF to celebrate are in Mashonaland Central and maybe in Kwekwe-Chirumhanzu where Mnangagwa got 17 000 votes.
Those being elated by Zanu PF results should consider that the political parties used different methods in the primary elections.
Thus to use the voter-turn-out as a litmus test will be highly misleading. Zanu PF for example allowed everyone even MDC supporters to vote. Therefore what is clear from the primaries is that more surprises will manifest in the harmonised elections.