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What is to be done
March 28, 2013
brace themselves for the critical forthcoming general elections,
one wonders whether any lessons have been learnt from the bloody
and chaotic 2008 polls which President Robert Mugabe stole before
declaring himself the winner after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
pulled out of the contest, citing violence and intimidation.
The next elections
are polls which neither of the two main parties can afford to lose
given the high political stakes.
Mugabe is now
old, frail and tired. At the age of 89, this is most likely his
last election, and winning it would guarantee him protection from
those who may be dreaming of dragging him to The Hague for human
would save his face as he cannot afford to be humiliated for the
second time by Tsvangirai and leave a tattered legacy of failure
As such, Mugabe
and his Zanu PF party will use all weapons at their disposal to
thwart Tsvangirai and the MDC-T.
It seems Zanu
PF and Mugabe have now come to the conclusion that Tsvangirai and
his party lack the strategy and political staying power to neutralise
violence perpetrated by such groups as Zanu PF militias, war veterans,
the army and police.
As a result
Mugabe will capitalise on this wicked pillar of strength to win
the next elections again.
the other hand cannot afford to boycott these crucial elections
since by so doing he would have simply fallen into Mugabe’s
most reliable trap.
With the post
of prime minister scrapped in the new constitution, Tsvangirai cannot
risk being jobless by boycotting elections in which he stands a
good chance to win. He would also risk losing the party leadership
after trying on several occasions to unseat Mugabe without success.
As for Welshman
Ncube, Arthur Mutambara, Job Sikhala, Simba Makoni and Dumiso Dabengwa,
none of them has any serious chance of making a huge impact in the
forthcoming elections, except as power brokers in the event of another
coalition arrangement between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
One of the three
following scenarios is likely to happen after the elections. Firstly,
Mugabe gets outright victory over his opponents. However, this is
unlikely taking into consideration his continued unpopularity after
33 years in power, marked by repression, economic mismanagement
and rampant corruption.
The extent to
which he could unleash violence on his opponents and manipulate
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and the Registrar General’s
office before, during and after the elections will determine whether
he wins or loses.
The second scenario
is that of an outright MDC-T victory. It is possible for the party
to achieve this monumental task depending on the extent to which
its supporters resist pressure from Zanu PF to boycott the elections
or be cowed into submission.
also achieve this if he enters into an alliance with other opposition
parties, Ncube’s MDC, Mavambo and Zapu.
This will not
be an easy task taking into consideration the time left before the
elections as well as the deep- rooted animosities between Tsvangirai
to be comfortable in being a power broker in a coalition government
than to see either Tsvangirai or Mugabe being an outright winner.
For that reason he will resist any attempt to back either Tsvangirai
It remains to
be seen the extent to which his followers will back this strategic
approach which will have a marked impact on the outcome of the elections.
If an alliance of opposition parties fails, it will be an uphill
task for the MDC-T to have outright victory which leads to the last
stalemate might arise again – perpetuating the problem we
have had for over a decade now – after none of the main parties
have been able to achieve outright victory, leading to a possible
nor Tsvangirai would want this scenario as it has serious challenges
as witnessed during the current arrangement. Mugabe does not want
to be humiliated again and to be seen to be weak, while suffering
a second defeat from Tsvangirai. That is on the one hand.
On the other
hand, Tsvangirai does not cherish a second Government
of National Unity (GNU). He was humiliated and rendered powerless
in the current one to the extent that most people wonder why he
is still in there when he has been reduced to mainly playing a ceremonial
The MDC-T has
lost considerable support from its power base since when GNU in
2009 and is now being blamed for poor basic services delivery as
it is now being painted with the same brush as Zanu PF despite it
being powerless to effect any meaningful change. Their dilemma is
that they failed to quit the coalition government hoping that they
would influence change from within which they have failed to do.
now is: what is to be done to minimise Mugabe’s rigging strategy?
Has the MDC parties learnt any lessons from the chaotic 2008 elections
which ZEC rigged in favour of Mugabe in broad daylight? As no meaningful
reforms have been implemented since the formation of the GNU, the
odds are still stacked in Mugabe’s favour.
strategies can be used by the opposition groups to minimise Mugabe’s
opposition parties must confront Mugabe as a united front. Ncube,
Makoni, Dabengwa and Reketai Semwayo should back Tsvangirai in a
grand coalition against Mugabe for the presidency.
In return, Tsvangirai
should reach a deal with them in parliamentary elections whereby
aspiring MDC-T candidates are not to contest in constituencies where
Ncube and Dabengwa would have fielded candidates.
grand alliance, the opposition parties stand a better chance of
unseating Mugabe and Zanu PF.
on elections day would have a marked impact on the outcome of the
The higher the
turnout, the greater the chances of the opposition parties defeating
Mugabe. The opposition groups should embark on a vigorous campaign
to reach all corners of the country and neighbouring states encouraging
voters to vote.
will not be easy as Mugabe will throw all spanners in the works
to neutralise such an offensive.
It is also important
election observers at all polling stations make use of modern technologies
to the fullest as happened during the Arab spring revolutions.
facebook, whatsapp and many other social media tools be made use
of to the fullest to update others on election processes and results
from each polling station before boxes are collected to the central
counting station where ZEC and the Registrar General will be in
This is important
as I foresee the Kenyan scenario where political parties drag each
other before the courts as the results are likely to be disputed
In the event
election results are stolen in favour of Mugabe, many scenarios
are likely to happen. Firstly, Zimbabweans as happened in 2008,
will grumble but remain passive, allowing Mugabe to slap them in
the face again.
the opposition parties will take the issue to the courts but to
no avail as the judiciary is pliable to executive pressure.
definitely be declared the winner but with devastating consequences
socially and economically. Appeals to SADC and the international
community for help with yield little success.
by the ordinary people over the stolen vote is one other option
but it remains to be seen whether Zimbabweans are now prepared to
sacrifice their lives for change.
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