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Zimbabwe Briefing Issue 53
in Zimbabwe Coalition
(SA Regional Office)
November 23, 2011
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political environment not yet conducive for elections
A critical ingredient
of most modern democracies is that the people's consent to
be governed is expressed through voting in a free and fair election
on the basis of universal and equal suffrage. Elections are thus
the "sine qua non" and barometer among a plethora of
other variables of any democracy, offering citizens an opportunity
to freely choose leaders of their choice to represent them in a
pluralistic system of representative government.
The free choice
of leaders depends on first, the atmosphere in which elections are
held - with emphasis on freely allowing all participating political
parties unfettered access to the electorate to sell their manifestos,
and second, the administration of the election which puts confidence
in the electorate that their vote will matter.
Under the current
Zimbabwe political scenario, these two most important ingredients
(political environment and the administration of that election)
for a free and fair election which produces uncontested results
is lacking from the political recipe outlined in the election road-map
that political parties are still squabbling over.
It is against
this background that the prevailing political environment in Zimbabwe
is not conducive for the holding of free and fair elections.
in charge of administering elections is discredited and lacks the
institutional capacity and financial resources to conduct elections;
hence the year 2012 cannot be a year for elections but a year for
work on democratic electoral reforms.
Holding elections in 2012 before electoral reforms and a change
in political culture will be a mere political ritual and facade
to mask an unpopular dictatorial and authoritarian regime.
of the Global Political
Agreement and the consummation of the unity government was a
transitional mechanism to put an end to political violence, work
towards peace, restore economic stability, author a new constitution
and prepare for the holding of free and fair elections under a level
squabbling and utter disregard by Zanu PF of this arrangement show
that the unity government has outlived its usefulness and is now
teetering on the verge of collapse hence the need for an election
that will usher a new political dispensation.
need for an election has broad consensus, the great question of
the day remains when and the environment in which the next election
will be conducted.
for the sake of holding an election will neither improve the quality
of life for ordinary citizens nor help Zimbabwe rejoin the family
of nations from which it has been booted out because its democracy
and governance deficits.
of its universality, democracy is now a subject of broad consensus,
high on the priority list of the international community.
are the major issues concerning the environment and the administration
of elections which if unresolved, Zanu PF is guaranteed of another
disputed "victory" and the region should either prepare
for the facilitation of yet another unity government or prepare
to protect citizens from a war spill-over into their countries when
Zimbabweans get fed up and confront the regime head on.
The major stumbling
block to people's free expression of who they want to represent
them in Zimbabwe at the moment is violence, intimidation and general
closure of democratic space.
clashes witnessed in Chitungwiza recently are reminiscent of
the 2008 sham
elections and cause physical and psychological torment to the
victims and witnesses of such inhuman acts of political terrorism.
perpetrators of such callous acts are not spared from trauma since
most of them are doing it either for money or to please the likes
of Saviour Kasukuwere who are the Godfathers of violence.
by a political party are worrying, but the possession of a well
oiled infrastructure and associated paraphernalia for violence by
a political party which purports to represent people's interests
In one of Zanu
PF's post 2008 songs, the kongonya dancing women loudly and
unashamedly sung: "zvikaramba toita zva June" (If we
fail we will resort to the June 2008 strategy).
If the levels
of unrepentence and celebration of impunity in Zanu PF are not curbed,
violence will become a fast spreading political tumour impeding
national healing with the possibility of the country sliding back
into a violent epoch characterised by loss of limbs and lives.
now time that the people of Zimbabwe come together within their
communities and device peaceful strategies of ensuring that "zvaJune"
will never be repeated again.
Until and unless
the people of Zimbabwe are guaranteed that "zvaJune"
will not happen again, the holding of an election will just serve
the purpose of legitimising a discredited regime which is now surviving
on violence and thuggery to usurp state power from the leaders Zimbabweans
will have chosen.
The use of state
security apparatus either to perpetrate violence directly or commanding
the violent lumben elements in Zanu PF is well documented in a report
by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition entitled: "The military
factor in Zimbabwe's political and electoral affairs".
It is a fact
that Zanu PF has over the years relied on militarising socioeconomic
and politico-electoral affairs of the state to block civilian participation
in key national processes.
If the involvement
of the military in swaying the vote through the environment and
their involvement in the administration of elections is not addressed,
there is no point of going into an election whose outcome is predictable.
The police have
played a "midfielder" role for Zanu PF in the electoral
processes in Zimbabwe through deliberate misinterpretation of POSA
to ban meetings of the opposition and, through selective application
of the law, allowing perpetrators of violence to commit crimes with
The police needs
to be non-partisan and be at the centre of ensuring that campaigning
is conducted in a free and fair manner in the next election.
The use of arbitrary
arrests as a restrictive tool to the operations of the opposition
By voting, the
electorate hope at least to communicate their preferences for government
policy through selection of leaders.
candidates, political parties, and interest groups hope to attract
the electorate to their causes.
thus becomes a communication issue. Unfettered access to the electorate
need not be only physical.
The media has
great influence on how people behave and their behaviour in expressing
who they want to represent hem is not an exception.
of state media by Zanu PF, reducing the national newspapers and
broadcasters to their mouthpieces has to be addressed before any
serious election in Zimbabwe.
parties have to be given voice in the media to sale their manifestos
and civic society organisations should also be allowed to educate
the people on politicoelectoral affairs as an aiding tool to decision
As the number
of people who are supposed to cast votes in an election increase,
the difficulty of conducting that election increases, necessitating
the creation of an institution that will be tasked with running
of elections creates confidence in the electorate so that their
vote will matter and hence they will cast their votes in large numbers
addressing the problem of apathy.
tasked with election administration must thrive to be neutral and
non-partisan for them to build faith in the electorate across the
The choice of
the people to lead an institution that administers election must
be above board to convince the electorate that they are not representing
Election Commission (ZEC) must be independently well-resourced to
ensure they administer the election independently without begging
for support from people that have vested interests in the election
These are some
of the properties of an election administration body which puts
confidence in the electorate.
is mostly true for the administration of elections in Zimbabwe.
The allegations of vote rigging may not be just a mere allegation
but a fact.
Zec is dominated
by, and often receives trainings from members of the army, police,
CIO, war veterans and diehard Zanu (PF) officials.
for public relations Shupikai Mashereni is a soldier with the army
Public Relations Directorate and a known staunch Zanu PF sympathiser.
The former chairman
of ZEC, Retired Brigadier General George Mutandwa Chiweshe is a
war veteran and serious bootlicker of President Robert Mugabe, for
his role in delaying the announcement and tempering with election
results in the 2008
watershed election, Judge Chiweshe has been promoted to be Judge
President and only God knows what he will do next to get recognition
has been some changes at the board level, the appointment of the
ZEC secretariat should above board be civilian.
of an election does not require super-natural military acumen and
hence should be left to civilians.
ZEC should be
run independently without influence from the executive if it is
to impartially administer elections otherwise we will have a situation
were the player becomes the referee.
Before the independence
of ZEC is addressed there is need to begin discussions on using
technology to enhance efficiency, finding ways of ensuring that
delimitation is not used to help candidates win an election, opening
up voter registration for civil society and observation of the election.
If the administration
of election is addressed the people of Zimbabwe will continue not
to have faith in the election process and the apathy levels will
It is for these
reasons and against this background of failed elections, that next
year election should be halted because of the enormous work that
still needs to be done to ensure that both the environment and the
administration of the next election will produce uncontestable results
which will pave way for the establishment of a government by the
people and working for the people.
should begin working together towards cornering the regime to put
in place reforms before the next election. Equally, Sadc and the
AU in their capacity as the guarantors of the GPA should use their
political leverage to force the regime to implement reforms by refusing
to recognise the results of a flawed election process.
the continent and the international community have become key political
players on the Zimbabwean political landscape. If there are no democratic
reforms, the next election will be a mere political ritual and a
facade to mask the unpopular self-destructing dictatorial regime
of Robert Mugabe.
Visit the Crisis
in Zimbabwe fact
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