Back to Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
2008 harmonised elections - Index of articles
and Zanu PF now constitute a coup
April 07, 2008
The unfortunate, yet
predictable drama unfolding in the wake of Zimbabwe-s March
29 elections resurrects Josef Stalin-s ghosts reminding us
of his uncanny words that 'Its not who votes that counts,
its who counts the votes-. Mugabe-s crafty actions since
the elections evidently show that he is determined to win the count
after losing the elections.
Seven days after peacefully
casting votes in the most anticipated election since 1980, Zimbabweans
still await the official announcement of the results. The profound
sense of hope that characterized the voting day is now turning into
downright bewilderment as it becomes clear that President Mugabe
and his Zanu PF are doggedly bent on disregarding the people-s
sovereign will as expressed on March 29.
The revelation from State
media that Zanu PF ordered the Zimbabwe Elections Commission (ZEC)
not to announce the presidential election results is baffling to
anyone with a sense of how the Zimbabwean elections process must
work. ZEC is a constitutionally mandated body tasked to independently
administer elections. For such a body to take orders from Zanu PF
whose legal status in this case is a mere contestant demonstrates
what is wrong not only with elections but with everything in Zimbabwe.
It is this rotten state of democratic institutions and the subordination
of state bodies to the ruling party that is at the heart of the
The important point that
must be made now is that President Mugabe-s continued hold
on power, after an election he visibly lost, now constitutes a coup.
Zimbabweans, supported by the international community must immediately
act to thwart this violation of the people-s democratic will.
The unprecedented and unconstitutional move by Zanu PF-s to
bar the ZEC from announcing the presidential election results is
clear evidence of mischief and unwillingness by hardliners in Mugabe-s
regime to respect the sovereign will of the people of Zimbabwe.
By heeding this illegal request, ZEC has failed the crucial test
of independence, thus confirming the longstanding fears by Zimbabwe-s
civic society that the elections body will sacrifice Zimbabwe-s
democracy at the alter of partisan interests.
Zanu PF-s calls
for a recount and already ongoing preparations for a presidential
election rerun, before the results are known, is not only bizarre
but also evidence of utter contemptuous disrespect to not only Zimbabweans
but also the whole world. With the current machinations, the Mugabe
regime has reached the height of illegality because they have in
actual fact staged what is essentially a 'veto coup-.
By definition this is when 'people-s mass participation
and social mobilization to govern themselves- is vetoed.
By refusing to bow to
popular will Mugabe is daring the people of Zimbabwe who have demonstrated
legendary restrain and patience under the most unbearable living
conditions. The March 29 elections presented a singular opportunity
for many to peacefully speak out and entrust the future of the country
in a leadership of their choice. The consequences of frustrating
and thereby rendering irrelevant such a democratic arena of struggle
are dangerous not only to Zimbabwe but, potentially to the whole
of Southern Africa. Mugabe-s reckless actions risks destabilizing
the whole region by provoking people to extra democratic means in
Zimbabwe with certain adverse spill over effects in the region.
As such the responsibility to defend the March 29 vote goes beyond
Zimbabweans. SADC, the AU and the United Nations, as bodies with
longstanding commitment against illegal usurpation of power must
play a key role in breaking the impasse in Zimbabwe. If these bodies
are to remain relevant it is they speak out now to pressure Mugabe
to release and accept the election results, otherwise they will
be faced with a serious crisis of legitimacy.
At this very late hour,
statements by South African President Thabo Mbeki that 'the
situation in Zimbabwe is manageable- and that 'it is
time to wait- are not only unhelpful but a slap in the face
for long suffering Zimbabweans, who at considerable risk and sacrifice
went out to vote on March 29. There cannot be any plausible reason
why results are not known seven days after voting! No, Mr President,
this is not 'a time to wait-; neither is it a 'manageable
situation-. This is more like a time bomb that can only be
defused if the people-s vote is respected.
unfortunate statements and the deafening silence from other African
leaders in SADC and the AU raises serious problems of accountability
with the current crop of African leaders. Where is the moral outrage
in this clear case of daylight robbery? Diplomacy seems to have
been redefined to 'see no evil, hear no evil and speak no
evil- within the old boys club. Africa is not helped by this
blind, uncritical support amongst its leaders.
The opposition in Zimbabwe
must now show decisive leadership. While it is commendable that
we have not seen 'Kenyan style- violence in the post
election period, Zimbabwe-s opposition must learn from Kenyan
opposition that the business of appealing to an incumbent-s
courts does not work. There are pending cases in courts from the
2000 elections. In fact, with a compromised judiciary, such as Zimbabwe-s,
court appeals only serve the purpose of disarming people-s
vigilance by creating a distracting sideshow and reinforcing illusions
of mitigation. Already a dilly dance has started in the courts with
all sorts of delaying tactics meant to buy Mugabe time until its
too late, rendering the court challenge academic. The opposition
is best advised to resort to peaceful mass mobilization of people
power to defend the vote. The opposition must lead unions, students
and the full range of civic society in defending the people-s
vote. Mugabe will only pay attention if he is convinced that he
can no longer govern in the old way, therefore the strategy must
be to paralyze the state through effective, peacefully direct action.
I personally hope that Professor Masunungure will be proved wrong
on his recent assertion that Mugabe will get away with mischief
and fraud because Zanu PF is 'risk taking- whereas the
opposition is 'risk averse-.
The despicable levels
of suffering by many Zimbabwean make resolving the current impasse
in Zimbabwe an urgent matter. Having been on the ground myself for
two weeks around election time, I can attest that the humanitarian
disaster I witnessed is heartbreaking. An old man I talked to in
one of the rural areas told me that "now we wait to see which
bush the goats are feeding on, and we eat that because we know it
will not be poisonous". Their village had always voted Zanu
PF, this time they voted out one of Mugabe-s ministers despite
all their fears of what could happen. They voted to restore their
It is time to defend
* Briggs Bomba
is a Zimbabwean born Economist working for Africa Action in Washington
DC, and writes here in his personal capacity. He can be contacted
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.