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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Need for an inclusive political process
Rights NGO Forum
At the rate
at which political developments are unfolding in Zimbabwe, we are
likely to witness new dynamics that might usher in another inclusive
As we expected
before the elections, the political
developments are now being dramatized in the courts and a lot
will depend on how the current MDC court challenges will turn out.
The MDC, it appears, has adopted a multi-pronged approach to its
litigation strategy, firing several bullets just in case one misses.
For instance, a judgement is currently pending in the High Court
chamber application in which the MDC seeking an order compelling
the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) to release documents that
it wishes to rely on in the main election
analysts think the application is misconceived and bound to fail
primarily because the MDC should have collected all its evidence
before alleging electoral fraud in the first place. On the other
hand, other analysts are arguing that there is no way the MDC could
have collected all the evidence given the ZEC’s recalcitrance.
Those who hold this view are equally skeptical if the court will
order ZEC to release the material. If indeed the Judge was inclined
to grant that order, he could have made it ex tempore, with reasons
for his decision to follow especially given the tight deadlines
within which the main petition should be heard.
The MDC lawyers
are critically aware that the smoking gun is in the documents currently
held by the ZEC. However, they appear to be sniffing trouble with
their application and have already counter-acted by making an interlocutory
application in the Constitutional Court requesting that the election
petition be heard as a trial rather than as an application. The
difference being that if the matter is heard as a trial, the parties
can call witnesses to adduce evidence and be subjected to cross-examination
in an open court whereas in an application, the matter is decided
on the papers filed before the court which Counsel can only supplement
through oral legal submissions. An application therefore rises or
falls based on the submitted bundle of papers. In our view, by pushing
for a full trial, the MDC is adopting a pre-emptive approach just
in case the High Court Chamber application fails. This interlocutor
will be heard on Friday.
Courts, there are credible but unverified reports that Zanu-PF is
already sending emissaries to woo the MDC MPs who won in the elections
to be part of the next government. Mr Tsvangirai also states that
he has been approached although it is not clear what position he
would be given should he decide to elope with Zanu-PF. Also of great
significance are the rumours that the MDC MPs who ran as independents
and won are in the process of forming another party to rival the
MDC and even have the audacity that Morgan Tsvangirai is invited
to join. In South Africa, Roy Bennett who has been the MDC’s
strongest link to the international community is reported to have
quit the MDC. In the SADC region, South Africa was reported as saying
there are no more issues to mediate in Zimbabwe, thus implicitly
serving its notice to terminate agency in the Zimbabwean conflict.
This creates a void in international relations to Zimbabwe which
heavily relied on South Africa.
to the economy, it is reported that about 1 000 foreign owned firms
have submitted plans to comply with indigenisation thresholds, but
less than half have so far been approved. This looks like the business
world has already resigned to the idea of doing business under Mugabe.
At the international
level, although the EU and most influential countries have passed
an interim verdict on the elections expressing deep concerns, it
would appear they haven’t’ adopted a definitive position.
The EU will hopefully adopt its final position in a month from the
election when the measures on Zimbabwe fall for review. It appears
the EU and international stakeholders are closely watching developments
within the country, particularly how the drama is unfolding in the
courts before they decide on whether the post-election election
environment also failed the credibility test. It is interesting
to see how the international community will finally decide on the
issue of credibility. However, it appears so far they have room
to manoeuvre and in so doing, make reference to both SADC and international
standards on election observation.
All in all it
appears Zanu-PF’s game plan is working and they are playing
it smart. For example, Zanu-PF has already adopted a softer stance
to the West. Despite Mugabe’s rants at the Heroes Acre, Zanu-PF
reportedly said they will work hard to win the West. Further, Zanu-PF
has not been gloating over MDC’s loss as seen by Emmerson
Mnangagwa’s recent words of comfort directed to Morgan Tsvangirai
that he should not feel defeated. Contrary to the popular view before
the elections, although the president appears not to be showing
signs of softening on his legacy, he honoured his word on the calls
for peace, if we were to define peace simply by the lack of widespread
overt violence. He was keen on peaceful elections, as this would
help him manage the succession issue. In that regard, he knows that
a severely weakened Tsvangirai can still have a role to play as
a pawn in his grand scheme of things.
In light of
the likely political stalemate, it might be time to consider new
approaches to ensure an inclusive political process rooted in national
reconciliation. Assuming Tsvangirai had won the poll, the military
would not have allowed him to govern or assuming that the military
had allowed him to govern, Zanu-PF would still have a role as the
opposition. The situation in Zimbabwe sends two clear lessons, firstly
that democracy is expensive and secondly that it is a long and painstaking
process which might not fit our pre-conceived templates. The process
has its own pitfalls, twist and turns and in the case of Zimbabwe
might require longer periods of transitional arrangements until
people's attitudes have changed and the current older generation
of politicians has had its own time.
have been invested into Zimbabwe and many reforms achieved. The
international community should be cautious not to allow a sole Zanu-PF
government reverse such gains. The EU might have been right after
all in observing that government turnover does not guarantee democratic
change in Zimbabwe. Zanu-PF lacks democratic roots; but the MDC
has, for its part, done little to prove its trustworthiness. Rather
than asking who is in power, international analysts might want to
put a stronger focus on how to actually improve Zimbabwe's political
culture and institutions.
should try to look creatively at new approaches toward a genuinely
inclusive political process that would be rooted in reconciliation.
However, Zanu-PF should desist from unhelpful attitudes, face the
issue of electoral legitimacy first rather than prevail over the
courts to cover it up. They need to exercise leadership by adjusting
their political strategies to a more transparent and inclusive approach.
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