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An election? Not yet.
May 10, 2010
There is a perception
both in Zimbabwe and elsewhere that the only way out of our misery
is through a fresh election. Nothing could be more misguided.
If we learned anything
from the bloody 2008 election it is that Zimbabwe still has a long
way to go before any free, fair and credible election can be held.
To suggest that such an election is possible in 2011 is at best
out of touch and at worst downright misleading.
The blunt truth is that
the culture of violence within ZANU PF has become so entrenched
in the way that politics is done in Zimbabwe that it will require
more than just a good constitution and superficial political reforms
for it to disappear.
ZANU PF-s culture
presently has neither political nor moral inhibitions about intimidating,
torturing and murdering vulnerable, innocent Zimbabweans.
Every election this country
has held since 2002 attests to this fact. The very existence of
that culture now enjoins all of us to do whatever it takes, for
as long as it takes, to bring about a sustainable end to the politics
of violence and murder.
If today we believe that
a new constitution (whose crafting is already 10 months behind schedule),
the swearing in of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the Human
Rights Commission and all the other so-called independent commissions
can and will guarantee our democracy, then we are not just fooling
ourselves, we are also fooling our children and maybe a few more
generations yet to come.
Mugabe has yet to be convinced of the efficacy of a free, fair and
credible election- so much so that in contemporary Zimbabwe not
even the world-s most perfect constitution would guarantee
a free poll.
If we are going to cut
corners, as if a new constitution was all that we need, we run the
terrible risk of missing a great opportunity, perhaps the only one
since 1980, to fully democratise our beautiful nation.
Political Agreement (GPA) was signed amid understandable reservations
and widespread condemnation. In hindsight, however, it has turned
out to be a blessing in disguise - a blessing we could do
well to embrace a little while longer.
Whereas previously our
condemnation of Mugabe-s excesses was confined to distant,
impotent opposition, today Tsvangirai and the MDC, as partners in
the unity government, can closely monitor and influence what is
Whereas previously our
supermarket shelves were empty, today they are fully stocked with
a variety of basics from which to choose.
our economy looked to be irretrievably in decline, today it is growing
again, albeit painstakingly slowly.
And whereas violence,
abductions and extra-judicial killings were rampant across our nation,
today there is hope because there are fewer of them.
improvements, however, a hell of a lot more needs to be done if
this nation is to enjoy sustainable democracy, peace and economic
First and foremost, Mugabe
must honour his commitments in terms of the GPA. Make no mistake
about it, there are a whole host of ways to ensure his compliance
but 'threatening- him with an election that he will
feel obliged to 'win- at any cost is not one of them.
To be fair to him, he has honoured the bulk and, arguably, the most
fundamental of them.
The horror of June 27,
2008, compels us all to change the way we do politics in Zimbabwe.
Frankly it is now a question of looking for a transformative solution
to the problem of violence and intimidation.
While it is all well
and good to have a Ministry for National Healing and Reconciliation,
actual reconciliation will be achieved only if the GNU prioritises
action and effects it by embarking on a comprehensive, nationwide
tour during which both Mugabe and Tsvangirai personally discourage
violence and promote mutual respect and tolerance.
If Mugabe is young enough
to rule this country at age 86, surely he is young enough to engage
in this kind of extended tour.
As a sign of seriousness
and commitment to the protection and promotion of peace and human
rights, the unity government must quickly move to declare June 27,
Human Rights Day.
The time has come to
entrench widespread, tangible reforms before we can start to entertain
the idea of holding fresh elections.
The office of the Registrar
General needs an absolute overhaul. It is, in my respectful view,
one office that should have been included on the infinitely growing
list of 'outstanding issues-.
Because of his sickening
propensity to act in common purpose with the usual suspects, it
is ridiculous to have the manipulative Tobaiwa Mudede still responsible
for the registration and compilation of the voters- roll.
It makes a mockery of the entire electoral process.
If ever we are to have
the Registrar-s function exercised in the true spirit of democracy,
the parties to the unity government must first satisfy themselves
that the incumbent is an honest, honourable, open-minded individual
who is free from any association with either ZANU PF or the MDC.
The fact of the matter is that Mudede fits no such criteria.
Before we can start to
entertain the idea of holding fresh elections we need to ensure
that civil society can function free from persecution and intimidation.
Before we can start to
entertain the idea of holding fresh elections we need to embrace
and effect the principles of transparency, accountability and selflessness.
the Government of National Unity must see to it that the proceeds
from Chiadzwa are used for the sole purpose of benefiting this country
and its people. Experts estimate that the country could generate
US$2 billion per year from Chiadzwa-s mining activities alone,
an encouraging revelation that goes to show that with an accountable
and transparent government Zimbabwe can be self-sufficient again.
We are the basket case
that we are today largely because of mismanagement and a failure
to account. That must change but that change will not necessarily
coincide with the ushering in of a new constitution. It will coincide,
however, with the change in the way that we do politics in Zimbabwe.
If we have endured decades
of repression under a blatantly indifferent regime, we certainly
can wait a little longer than 48 months to see the democratisation
process through to fruition.
For goodness sake, it
took Taiwan and Mexico decades to become democracies. It took decades
too for the United States of America, the world-s leading
democracy, to become the flourishing democracy that it is today.
Hell, it took the United Kingdom close to 600 years to become a
The truism that patience
is a virtue applies to every aspect of life, including politics.
It would be foolhardy
in the extreme if we pursued democracy too quickly in the spirit
of 'get it done yesterday-.
Democracy in the Zimbabwean
context should be about much more than just making sure Mugabe is
replaced by Tsvangirai.
It should encompass a
strong civil society, independent media, rule of law, accountability,
good governance, tolerance and mutual respect.
Never should we sacrifice
these crucial considerations in our haste to get elections underway.
The only good Zimbabwe
is a democratically sustainable Zimbabwe and the unity government
is a perfect platform to achieve it.
Maziwisa is Interim President of the Union for Sustainable Democracy
(USD) and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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