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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Zimbabwe Election Conference Special Briefing
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (SA Regional Office)
    July 16, 2013

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    Zimbabwe headed towards another Global Political Agreement?

    Zimbabwe is set to go for a General Election on the 31st of July 2013, two weeks from now, despite that the environment is still not conducive for the holding of free and fair (Feya Feya) elections. Possible scenarios continue to emerge as articulated by Professor Brian Raftopolous, Professor Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni and Dr Ibbo Mandaza at a Zimbabwe Elections Conference, which preceded the Public Launch of the Feya Feya Campaign in Johannesburg on Saturday, 13 July 2013.

    Speaking at a conference organized by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in partnership with South African Council of Churches [SACC], Human Rights Institute of South Africa [HURISA], Congress of South African Trade Unions [COSATU] and the South African Forum for International Solidarity [SAFIS] on Zimbabwe elections in Johannesburg on the 13th of July 2013, Professor Raftopolous, who is the current Chairperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition SA board, suggested to an audience of over 100 participants drawn from South African based and SADC solidarity partners and representatives of Zimbabwe diaspora civil society organizations from the SADC region and political formations, that there are three possible scenarios to emanate from the forthcoming election:

    A Zanu-PF victory coming through Zanu-PF riding on a restructured political economy, the threat of violence and rigging. Prof Raftopolous views this scenario as the most likely based on the Inclusive Government’s failure to fully implement political and institutional reforms in accordance with the Global Political Agreement (GPA), hence Zanu-PF is able to manipulate the electoral process to ensure its victory.

    An MDC [led by Morgan Tsvangirai] outright victory, which however, faces resistance from the military. Professor Raftopolous intimated that an election under the obtaining environment would block the transfer of power. Again, this sits as a likely scenario.

    The third possible scenario is a possibility of another negotiated settlement as the country may have another hung parliament. This scenario emanates from a totally disputed election marred by intimidation and violence. This is likely to force intervention by SADC and the African Union (AU) and another negotiated settlement will be the solution.

    Professor Raftopolous’ views, on the most likely scenario that sees a Zanu-PF victory through stealing the election, resonate with some political analysts’ views predicting a stolen election through the use of subtle means such as the manipulation of the voter registration exercise, lack of media and security reforms, amongst other crucial reforms.

    Speaking at the same platform, Dr Ibbo Mandaza, Director of Harare based policy think-tank SAPES Trust, argued that contrary to submissions that Zanu-PF still had a social base, the party had instead lost this social base over the years. He pointed out that the survival of Zanu-PF was purely on the basis of its reliance on an unevenly strong state. “Zanu-PF’s only social base is the state; powerful disproportionate state which controls the media and the security”, said Mandaza. He argued that 60% of the newly registered voters were likely to vote against Zanu-PF given the tendency for new voters to vote against the incumbent. He argued that Mugabe has won elections by rigging since 1996.

    He however, postulated that the stakes are so high that if elections are allowed to be rigged, the outcome will result in violence, chaos and the poll will be disputed hence a possible military coup, forcing regional and international intervention and the possibility of another GPA.

    Speaking to accusations that the election in Zimbabwe has already been rigged, Dr. Mandaza argued that it is not enough to say that elections were rigged but for both local and international observers to more importantly expose the methods used by showing how and where elections were rigged. He argued that Mugabe had lost the past elections since 1996, but remained in power through perfecting the art of rigging, whose legacy Zimbabwe is still stuck with even today. Dr Mandaza further noted that if the art of rigging, which remains the sole survival kit for Zanu-PF, is exposed and in the absence of any method to ensure their victory, Zanu-PF may call off the elections by unleashing violence and chaos to disrupt the process. Mandaza argued that this a high stakes election where Zanu-PF actors individually or collectively could not let go. Thus a rigorous scrutiny of the electoral process is needed to get Zanu-PF out of office.

    On timing of the election, Dr Mandaza stressed that it is not too late to postpone the election if the conditions are not allowing for a free and fair election. He argued that postponing the election would mean sticking to the letter and spirit of the SADC election roadmap and implementation of all outstanding reforms to enable the holding of an undisputed free and fair election.

    Based on three themes, namely (1) history and memory, (2) stakes and issues and (3) imagination of the future, Professor Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Head of the Archie Mafeje Research Institute of the University of South Africa (UNISA), affirmed that given the prevailing conditions on the ground, Zimbabwe cannot expect conditions for free and fair elections in the remaining two weeks. “What we will instead have is something between the botched 2008 election and a free and fair election only in the future,” said Prof Ndlovu-Gatsheni.

    He reiterated the need to make this election an issue based election as he expressed worry on the manifestos of political parties and what they are bringing to the people’s table. He urged Zimbabweans to seriously consider what these political parties are promising to avoid a “choiceless democracy” after elections. Professor Ndlovu also expressed worry on the fact that most people seem to believe that the holding of the forthcoming election will be the end of Zimbabwe’s problems, yet, in his view, they should be a stepping stone towards democracy. He concluded by posing the following questions, “what is the future of Zimbabwe beyond the elections, what are political parties’ election manifestos saying, do we want a situation where we will have another dominant party syndrome?”

    Participants at the conference emphasized the importance and need for regional and international solidarity on Zimbabwe to be scaled up in preparation for a most likely inconclusive [in the fight for democratization] election the country is headed towards.

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