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New Constitution-making process - Index of articles
from Kenya for Zimbabweans
March 12, 2013
There is a general
consensus among the people I spoke to regarding the Kenyan elections
that polls there hinged on tribal rivalry driven from the fact that
the leading candidates, Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, come from
different tribes which have been at loggerheads for many decades.
Given this background,
one would have expected massive protests and violence after elections
especially after the losing candidate Odinga alleged massive rigging.
enough, the Kenyan population has shied away from repeating the
violent acts which mired the previous elections. They have chosen
to be calm.
heard Odinga calling for mass protests which is normally sparks
violence. In fact Kenya is very calm right now after what Odinga
says was a controversial outcome.
If only Zimbabweans
were to learn from the Kenyans. The Kenyan body politic invested
a lot of time and resources in preaching tolerance and unity way
before the first vote was cast. Kenya scored a first as it televised
political debate. This was one of the many indicators that Kenyan
politicians have moved from vengeance towards a society where different
ideas can be tolerated.
While we may
agree that Zimbabweans will not agree to the televised debates due
to reasons we may know, I think it is important for our leaders
to find alternative platforms where they can demonstrate that they
are above the politics of violence.
We know that
the constitutional YES campaign has brought together leaders of
different political parties to share platforms of encouraging people
in support of the constitution.
While this process
may seem as an improvement towards tolerance, I also believe it
is a selfish act meant to cover and endorse wishes of political
parties because other sectors of society seem not to be covered.
of civic society activists and disruption of meetings which campaign
against the constitutional draft are not signs of tolerance. Also
the fact that the Welshman Ncube led MDC has pulled out of combined
political meetings because of the other partners’ failure
to draft them in for joint national campaigns seem to be a recipe
for future political disputes.
Even PM Tsvangirai’s
rallies have been disrupted and that does not send a good message
for Zimbabwe’s troubled government.
The other interesting
observation in the Kenyan election was the ability of candidates
and the electoral commission to invest time and resources in calling
for whoever was going to lose the elections to accept the results.
This was done
way before the elections happened and this message was intensified
during and after voting with electoral officials insisting that
all candidates declare publicly that they would accept results even
if they lost elections.
In this case
it gave the losing candidate no ground to publicly encourage revolts
against disputed results. This was a diplomatic coup de tat against
politicians by the electoral commission and civil society. It has
worked wonders in Kenya. Odinga has shown reluctance in encouraging
street protests. The country is relatively safe and peaceful.
Electoral Commission should have been taking notes from its Kenyan
counterparts. But the Zimbabwe elections body is suspected of bias
in favour of ZANU PF. We have a situation whereby disputes are already
surfacing before the elections take place with matters such as the
safety of supporters and an up to date voters’ role not guaranteed.
The media is under duress and there are already signs that if the
MDC was to lose elections in June, they would not accept them as
free and fair.
We all expect
the losers to accept election results but it will be great foolishness
for the MDCs to go into an election that are already compromised
by political failure to resolve the current disputed issues. It
is the job of the electoral commission to preach acceptance of results
but we also know that our electoral commission is not ready to run
an election. If we were to go with what we have today, the upcoming
elections would be handed on a silver platter to ZANU PF. The party
seems to have an upper hand. It is already fuelling violence and
has supporters holding key positions like the attorney general and
the chief elections acting boss Joice Kazembe.
Be that as it
may, we just hope Zimbabwe finds a way of resolving its political
crisis which to all intents and purposes should mark the beginning
of economic revival and a better life for everyone. We all pray
for this miracle to happen like the Kenyan elections so far and
I guess it is the duty of our leaders to find ways to ensure that
the violence which characterised the 2008
elections is not repeated.
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