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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
election: Robert Mugabe's election victory is defeat for democracy
Gappah, The Telegraph
August 03, 2013
View this article
here on The Telegraph website
Early on Thursday
morning, the day after Zimbabweans had gone
to the polls to choose a new president and to send new representatives
to our two houses of parliament and to urban and rural councils,
I received a panicked call from a friend who works with Prime Minister
facing a catastrophe," he said. The Movement for Democratic
Change was on course to lose eight seats in Harare to Mr Mugabe's
Zanu-PF, he said. They had lost 22 of the 26 seats in Manicaland
province, while all the seats in the southern province of Masvingo
had gone to Zanu-PF.
As the day unfolded
and the results trickled in, the extent of the catastrophe became
clear. What stood out the most was this shocking result: Zanu-PF
had won most of the seats in Matabeleland.
Just after independence,
in the 1980s, in an operation called Gukurahundi, Mr Mugabe sent
a North Korean-trained army brigade to the province to quell what
the government said were secessionist elements. The Fifth Brigade
killed thousands of people. 30 years later, Gukurahundi is a sore
that has not healed, and the people of Matabeleland have not forgotten.
Since the MDC
emerged as the only threat to Zanu-PF in 1999, Matabeleland has
consistently voted MDC. But the results we were receiving suggested
that the impossible had happened, that the people of Matabeleland
had put aside Gukurahundi and found in themselves a new love for
Zanu-PF. They had voted Zanu-PF, endorsed Zanu-PF, they had embraced
the party of the people who had killed their loved ones.
Later that day,
I had lunch with friends at SAPES
Trust, an organisation that hosts lively political debates and
has the best African food in Harare. The usual SAPES crowd was there
– journalists, political commentators, businessmen, diplomats.
On every face
was the same shock and disbelief. There was no doubt in any mind
that Zanu-PF had pulled off one of the most spectacular cons in
the history of electoral fraud.
In the run up
to the election, SAPES had hosted a number of debates on what Zimbabwe
could expect from the election. That it was played on an uneven
field was clear. That the law had been flouted from the day that
Mr Mugabe had proclaimed the election date right to the day of the
election itself was equally clear. There was no doubt that the MDC
would have to fight the hardest it had ever fought. And in addition
to what was clearly and legally demonstrable were the rumours that
hinted of what was to come and that said that an Israeli company
had been paid vast amounts of money to manipulate the voters' roll.
And so we had
expected theft, we had anticipated rigging, but the monumental scale
of the theft took us all by surprise.
As we sat at
our tables, trying to digest peanut butter rice and roadrunner chicken,
sadza and T-bone steaks, a journalist shouted that Jonathan Moyo,
one of the key Zanu-PF plotters behind this election, had lost his
seat. There was a small cheer, followed by laughter, but the laughter
had a gasping, hysterical edge to it.
I took part in a discussion for a South African TV station with
two panellists who managed to lace their rage with eloquence. Ibbo
Mandaza, SAPES founder and a former member of Zanu-PF, was uncompromising
in his assessment. If the Africans accept this, he said, referring
to the African
Union, then it means they have endorsed impunity. Brian
Raftopolous, a political scientist agreed. The bar will have
been set so low for African elections that they may as well not
have any standards at all.
By the evening,
the picture was complete. The MDC had been maimed beyond comprehension,
the democratic space had shrunk and the hopes of Zimbabweans with
it. That same day, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, the African
Union's representative, left the country with this parting shot:
"There is no such thing as a perfect election."
The next day,
at a press conference full of protocol and hot air, the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) observers delivered
their verdict: the elections had been free and peaceful. And
with those words, they have condemned Zimbabweans to at least five
more years of Zanu-PF's looting of state resources, Zanu-PF's incompetence
and mismanagement and human rights violations.
won this election with a brutal and ruthless efficiency. If they
can bring that singleness of purpose to managing the economy and
bringing the country out of isolation, then Zimbabwe will be wealthy
beyond measure. I won't be holding my breath. My thoughts are now
on one single thing: how to survive the next five years with my
sanity intact and my family whole and how to find a way to be happy
again in a world that has showed that injustice wins over hope.
But there is this: unless Zanu-PF tampers with the new constitution,
Zimbabwe now has presidential term limits. And that means that,
come what may, there will be no President Mugabe of Zimbabwe in
2023. Now that is something to look forward to.
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