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Comment on the impending plebiscite
George Makoni
December 14, 2011

Never again in Zimbabwe shall mere propaganda, political rhetoric, and mantra at political opponents, vote buying, intimidation and other dirty tactics used to win elections. The era just after independence was characterized by a de-facto one state whereby ZANU P.F was invincible, the euphoria for independence having blinded many Zimbabweans, application of dirty tactics to silence dissenting voices and patronage to the ZANU PF party supporters especially youths, women and war veterans.

This worked to the satisfaction and desire of the former ruling party to cling to power. The climax being in 2000 when land was grabbed from commercial white farmers in a violent campaign led by war veterans.

The draconian legislations such as Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and Access to Information, Privacy Protection Act (AIPPA) followed as a way of dealing with the threat posed by Movement for Democratic Change which was born in 1999.Having given ZANU P.F the toughest challenge since formation, there was need to cut its tail by all means possible. In 2000, 2002 and 2005 it worked as ZANU P.F scooped majority in parliament whilst they stole the presidential elections from MDC-s Morgan Tsvangirai. Zimbabwe Election Commission (Z.E.C) with partisanship totally swinging to ZANU PF played the game taking advantage of their control over voter-s role and their overall administration as enshrined in the Zimbabwe Election Commission Act.

The security agents and militia also played a critical role in harassing and intimidating opposing elements in the election. With the history of violence and massive brutality written at the back of the people-s minds of all in Zimbabwe especially those in rural and other marginalized areas had to co-operate with the calls of the then ruling party. The deterioration of socio-economic standards in Zimbabwe came at the speed of an unidentified flying object. This was mainly characterized by inflation, price increases, scarcity of basic commodities, hunger and high unemployment.

This is the time when Dr Gideon Gono hogged the limelight for wrong reasons when he had to resort to, 'desperate measures for desperate times-. This is the time when he had to print money on bond paper almost daily, money laundering and illegal exchange became the order of the day in Zimbabwe and most people left formal employment and business to pursue black market activities to the detriment of Zimbabwe.

In 2008 people had to vote against a regime which had bred a plethora of their grievances through disruption of the backbone of the economy in 2000 (farming), corruption, populist decisions at the expense of national coffers, loss of investor confidence and reduction of production in industries.

The opportunity for people to express their anger against the perpetrators of their challenges came on the 29th of March 2008 where President Mugabe bit dust in an election for the first time since assuming power in 1980.The June 27 saga (Presidential run-off) was to follow which saw even President Mugabe-s contestant, Honorable Prime-Minister Morgan Tsvangirai fleeing to neighboring Tswanaland. The end result of this was a government of national unity which is unfortunately a government of no unity and no governance.

The people of Zimbabwe generally feel that from a social point of view this government to a considerable extent loosened screws on their suffering. The introduction of the multiple currency system brought some relief since it availed goods in shops, returned teachers to work, improved some basic services in health and other basic services, improvement of production and information, communication and technology.

With a taste of these sips of comfort and convenience, Zimbabweans have expressed that they do not want to go back to an 'Egypt- of 2008 whereby they were literally in bondage of poverty. What the general populace will be looking for this time is certainty that they will not be swallowed again by the doldrums of poverty, given that when the stomach speaks nothing else will oppose. When it comes to issues of bread and butter surely people will not hesitate to risk their lives.

At this point in time no one would want to hear about Zim dollar because of the wild memories which people have towards it. Any moves which are most likely to scare away investors, whether in the name of empowerment or indigenization will be spiked to the political dustbins come election time.

Promises can be made and super manifestos can be in place, nonetheless citizenry will look back to the past to see what people have done in their favor or against them. Definately no-one would want to vote for someone who once destroyed his/her or neighbor-s house. The same applies to someone who inflicted pain to you in any way.

It is in the context of the above that any mudslinging of the people-s choice will not matter at all. Whether people sing, give speeches, recite poems and write negative things about the people-s choice it will not matter at all. This time around people will be guarding their freedoms, future and peace jealously.

The debate around Constitution Making Process, National Healing and Minimum Conditions to free and fair elections has also done a lot in terms of opening the people-s minds. It is therefore a very difficult task to just get away with forms of deception which were used in the past. Besides the opening of eyes by Zimbabweans the whole world is also in full view of what is going to come out of this transitional government or else Zimbabwe-s international image will further be bartered, culminating in more isolation.

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