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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
democrats: A luta perdido - e reinício
Moore, Solidarity Peace Trust
September 05, 2013
August 1 6:08:
from inside a party meeting assessing the damage, the SMS from the
Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai activist could not have
been more different than his “WE HV WON” after Zimbabwe’s
2008 election. “Bad news” wrote the man who was
in seventh heaven at the country’s biggest ever political
rally two days before: “We hv bn hit by the unexplainable.
Its game over. 5
years withe Mugabe again”.
hopes for a ‘crossover’ peaked at the rally (twenty
per cent being registered, opined one senior observer: I trust that
the young fellow who pick pocked me was one of the unregistered
masses!). The real crossover contrasted starkly to the hopes of
the MDC-T, its civil society supporters, and democrats the world
over. It marked a fundamental transformation in Zimbabwe’s
polity and social order nonetheless.
were soon in: Zanu-PF’s 62 to 34% victory over Zimbabwe’s
main opposition in the presidential race and an over two-thirds
parliamentary majority guarantee ‘revolutionary party’
power for the next five years. Many words have been spilled saying
that this will be Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s last term as president,
but it should not be forgotten that after 2005’s elections
he said he’d rule until he was a century old. Constitution
makers may have stopped this: two terms, up to 10 years, is the
limit. Biology willing, the need to maintain a faction-ridden Zanu-PF
could stretch his years in power to 99.
August 22 inauguration completed the text messenger’s disappointment.
In the intervening three weeks, the MDC-T’s manoeuvres seemed
rote: would the Zanu-PF-packed courts ever have allowed evidence
proving the ballot fraudulent, null, and void? Would SADC’s
and the AU’s slight hesitations in their reports have ever
been acted on?
consecration at Lilongwe preceding the final anointment was the
cake’s icing. Lindiwe Zulu, labelled in July a prostitute
by Mugabe for trying to keep Zimbabwe’s road map to democracy
on track, was welcomed back to the fold. South African President
Jacob Zuma asked Mugabe for her bride price: thus SADC’s previous
efforts to cajole Zanu-PF into line were forgiven, never to resurrect.
SADC’s final summary of September 2 closed the debate: ‘free,
peaceful and generally credible’ (with an apologetic gesture
to the elephant in the room: the missing 1.6 tonne voter’s
roll, for which the soft copy was never available while hard copies
were only ready a day before the election) was the organisation’s
last Milquetoasty testament: with mid-2008 as the benchmark, could
one have expected more?
with contempt of court for withdrawing the claims and noting the
judge’s bias, Morgan Tsvangirai and his party have to practice
the fine art of opposition politics again. Assuming its leaders
reject offers to join government (not to confuse sitting in parliament
with co-option, as did a number while contemplating a boycott),
the opposition party will do what such parties do best. The MDC-T
lost the 2013 struggle, but the significant space it and civil society
opened during nearly 15 years of intense effort (aside from some
seductions with the so-close-but-so-far transitional inclusive
government and donor dependency) must be widened. The 2013 phase
of the struggle was lost, but it starts again: a luta continua without
turning into continuous looting.
the disappointed democrat’s SMS, what hit the MDC-T was far
from unexplainable, nor surprising. An explanation can help the
MDC-T and all Zimbabwe’s democratic forces chart a future
shadowed by the spectre of the ‘revolutionary party’
torn into factions, and possibly more reprehensible than ever.
and Antonio Gramsci could have designed Zanu-PF’s campaign.
Gramsci’s coercion+consent Centaur merged with Machiavellian
trickery outsourced to Israeli election managers to outwit the MDC-T.
Three prongs of a four-toothed fork won the race for a party that
after fifty years has mastered the route to power. Crudity, concurrence
and chicanery constituted three-quarters of victory’s equation.
The last quarter
consisted of a lethal mix of MDC-T flat-footedness and naïve
hubris. It relaxed while the Zimbabwean leviathan concentrated single-mindedly
to finish nearly fourteen years of containing, then eliminating,
its threat. Who sang the lullaby? Was there too much advice from
the likes of the International Republican Institute?
pre-voting rigging, laggardly registration of candidates and ‘alien’
voters, gift-giving and the missing electronic voters’ roll
will be documented eventually: records kept, lessons will be learned.
Surely this observer was not alone thinking the July 31st voting
queues in Mbare were funereal, contrasting starkly with all elections
since 2000. The urban chipangano militias worked well; similarly
rural chiefs lined up their subjects promising repeats
of July 2008’s violence were if the vote went wrong.
One large question
remains. Why did the MDC-T enter this election? The Central Intelligence
Organisation’s (with its own diamond mine, reportedly) careful
preparatory work was well known: Zimbabwean intelligence is about
sharing more than keeping secrets. Nikuv’s mercenaries (admittedly
better than those wielding guns, but quartered with the defence
ministry nonetheless) working since 2000, invented sci-fi+John Le
Carré pre-ballot ruses carrying the ‘revolutionary
party’ to a majority more than even it and western legitimacy
packagers such as Andy Young and Jess Jackson expected. But a good
proportion of its tricksfrom duplicated names to ghosts were known
well in advance of D-Day. Many had been tested in May’s constitutional
referendum and July’s special security forces votes.
predictable judges refused SADC’s mid-June request to postpone
the election by a mere two weeks, SADC facilitators offered support
to the MDC-T if it withdrew pending consolidation of the Global
Political Agreement’s electoral conditions. The MDC-T
debated the proposition, deciding against. Victory was in sight.
The upcoming Victoria Falls tourism conference made post election
violence improbable. Repetition of the 2008 run off carnage was
considered unlikely given its ramifications for Zanu-PF if repeated.
If the MDC-T disappeared in Matabeleland wouldn’t Zapu and
or the splinter MDC have taken the cake? Moreover, there were no
guarantees how far SADC’s support, perhaps only offered on
the sidelines and thus hard to backup would go if the plug was pulled.
Yet it seems
Zanu-PF had no plan B if the MDC-T had refused to attend the nomination
courts. Mugabe’s screaming insults at Lindiwe Zulu could have
alerted MDC-T strategists of their advantage. Yet acquiescence emerged
as obsequious as Zuma, who dropped his compatriot like a hot potato.
As one perplexed Zimbabwean activist queried; ‘where was the
Along with its
insistence in 2008 that polling results be posted outside each station,
SADC’s quiet offer could have deepened Zimbabwe’s democratic
dynamic irretrievably. That chance is foregone: has it foretold
democracy’s death? The lesson? Take every opportunity to divert
Zanu-PF from its path: artlessness and hubris are no challenge to
fifty years of domestic and international cunning.
issue questions Morgan Tsvangirai’s future. With it arises
the ‘cold war’ between secretary-general Tendia Biti
(surely relieved to be released of the finance ministry’s
albatross) and national organiser Nelson Chamisa (who let too much
in his communications ministry slip to Zanu-PF’s transport
portfolio e.g. cell-phone companies paying licenses 15 years in
advance and failed to organise the election well enough). The prospect
of pure opposition rather than hamstrung co-governance may fire
Tsvangirai up, but many think that losing all the elections since
2000, be they by hook or crook renders him unfit. Will the party
survive either his hanging on or his departure? The loss of much
of its dead wood is a plus, as is the virtual disappearance of the
splinter parties although in their wake the MDC-T lost many Matabeleland
seats as it fell through cracks created by Dumiso Dabengwa’s
Zapu and Welshman Ncube’s other MDC. Zanu-PF may as well have
been practicing divide and rule. Division and control could end,
in Matabeleland especially, if early unity buries rusting hatchets
On a larger
scale, fifteen years of de-industrialisation have decimated trade
union based civil society: it remains to be seen if a new subaltern
base made up of striving ‘new peasants’ is irretrievably
and organically Zanu-PF. A core of youthful civil society intellectuals
disenchanted with the MDC’s move into patron client politics
may see a new party born: Zanu-PF’S intellectuals are already
crowing at that new wizard.
habit of harsh recrimination to those stymying its right to eternal
power will discourage democratic deepening. Yet Zanu-PF may factionalise
further. Mugabe’s glue, holding the party together since 1977,
is decaying. Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions’ battles will be
overlaid with the ‘Group of 40’ and or ‘Super
Zezuru’. Policy swings between populist patriotism and weak
technocratic efforts to re-engage the international financial institutions
to crack the $11 billion debt will ensue. Will the diamond lords
channel their wealth to the state, not their expanding empires?
Will a revised Kimberley Process effect much?
If the economy
nosedives again and this surely must be exorcising the European
Union’s agonising over sanctions, which were on the way to
lifting had the elections been more tolerable Zimbabweans’
choices will be stark. After a decade and a half a stoic denizenry
has become adept at informal work and sending in millions from the
diaspora, but this, notwithstanding enclaved diamonds and platinum,
is a precarious political economy at the best of times. They may
have to choose resistance over resilience.
Will the MDC
marshal a collectivity of contestation to its cause before it gets
out of hand, or will a Zanu-PF style of authoritarian populism win
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