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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
of Zimbabwe's flawed elections
August 18, 2013
As a South African
I am troubled by President’s Jacob Zuma’s appeal to
Zimbabweans to “accept the outcome
of the elections”. Why should our northern brothers and
sisters accept elections that were not credible? Zuma’s statement
is misleading as the real “outcome” of the elections
is not the results. Rather it is the betrayal of an ideal for which
our liberation heroes in the region fought. Zuma’s initial
the process disregards the long-term damage that this election will
do to an important neighbour who has not yet successfully transitioned
from independence to freedom.
President Robert Mugabe
and Zanu-PF lay claim to the title of Zimbabwe’s “liberators”
yet they continue to purposely confuse independence with freedom.
Independence is simply self-rule; freedom is when a person’s
liberty is promoted and protected by adherence to a host of rights.
One of those fundamental rights is the right to vote under free
and fair conditions.
Madiba linked his freedom
to the idea of democracy. During the Rivonia Trial in 1964, Madiba
stated, "I have fought against White domination, and I have
fought against Black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a
democratic and free society in which all persons will live together
in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope
to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for
which I am prepared to die."
Government exists not
simply to rule, but to promote and provide a better life for its
citizens. Consequently, the right to vote is essential as it acts
as a cyclical safeguard to remove a government that fails to perform.
This year, Zimbabweans
were once again deprived of truly exercising their right to vote
under free and fair conditions. To be clear, the issue is not that
Zanu-PF emerged as the winner of the elections. Rather, the electoral
process leading up to Zanu-PF’s victory has not been credible,
which will have implications for Zimbabwe. What makes matters worse
is that the past three years - both politically and economically
have been some of the best years Zimbabwe has had in almost a decade
and a half. A lot of the progress that was made could easily be
Political Agreement (GPA), which came into being after Zimbabwe’s
violent elections in 2008, gave birth to the Government
of National Unity (GNU). The GPA was intended to "create
a genuine, viable, permanent, sustainable and nationally acceptable
solution to the Zimbabwe situation." In essence, it aimed to
create a situation of sustainable peace and promote reforms in a
host of areas that would make the government of Zimbabwe more accountable
The GPA also
forced political parties into a series of engagement and negotiation
processes which helped to build trust. After several failed attempts
by political parties since 1999 to change the highest law of the
land, the GNU wrote and enacted a new Constitution earlier this
year. Before the elections, actors across the political divide described
the process leading up to the creation of the new Constitution
as a form of “national healing”. Whether the same sentiments
now prevail is doubtful.
The new Constitution
could also easily be amended given Zanu-PF’s two-thirds majority
in Parliament and the party’s history of tampering with the
highest law of the land. Since 1987, Zanu-PF amended the Lancaster
House Constitution, each time making it less democratic and accountable.
In 1996, Zanu-PF changed the first section of the Bill of Rights
to a preamble, thereby diluting fundamental rights. Within hours
of the elections, in his capacity as Minister of Justice and Zanu-PF’s
Deputy Secretary of Legal Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa reportedly
told the media that, “the new Constitution may need cleaning
up”. It is thus not unforeseeable that the Constitution will
Even if the Constitution
remains unchanged for the time being, there is a risk that important
aspects of it will not be implemented. The new Constitution was
negotiated with the intent that certain reforms have to be undertaken,
thereby changing the relationship between the state and her citizens.
More than 90 percent of Zimbabweans, who voted in the Referendum
in March 2013, endorsed the Constitution, which means the government
has a duty to implement and respect it. Key institutions like the
media, the security sector, and the judiciary were misused in the
run up to the elections. Consequently, how likely is it that the
reforms related to these institutions will be implemented? Why would
the rule of law and the new Constitution be observed on a daily
basis if so many laws were broken in an attempt to manipulate the
outcome of the elections?
of the flawed election could also be severe, and in the worst case
scenario, have a negative impact on the political situation. The
importance of the GNU was that it helped to stimulate Zimbabwe’s
economy. After years of economic depression and inflation of 6.5
quindecillion novemdecillion (i.e. 65 followed by 107 zeros) percent
by December 2008, the Zimbabwean economy grew by more than 9% per
annum in 2010 to 2011 before it slowed down to 5% in 2012.
economic growth, not only due to dollarization of the economy, but
also because businesses had more confidence to invest in a country
which they thought was moving in the right direction. Both local
and foreign businesses will be particularly wary to invest in the
Zimbabwean economy because the political and economic environment
for the time being remains unpredictable.
During the peak of the
crisis years (1998 to 2008), Zimbabweans preferred to acquire foreign
assets and keep their money in foreign bank accounts because controversial
money printing caused the Zimbabwean dollar to collapse overnight;
people feared expropriation and did not have confidence that the
economy will bounce back. A 2008 study by Léonce Ndikumana
and James Boyce found that Zimbabwe’s external assets were
5.1 times higher than the country’s entire debt stocks, demonstrating
a huge lack of trust in the Zimbabwean economy. Today, Zimbabweans
remain wary of Zanu-PF’s policy as set out in its 2013 election
manifesto to re-introduce the Zimbabwean dollar. Furthermore, according
to Zanu-PF’s election manifesto, there could be major problems
for the 1,138 “foreign-owned companies” that have been
targeted for indigenization.
debt, which is said to be $10,7 billion, is unsustainable and requires
careful management as well as possible debt forgiveness. It will
be interesting to see how creditors will react to Zimbabwe’s
flawed electoral process. If Zimbabwe is unable to deal with the
debt situation and fails to channel more money (including diamond
revenue) into the country’s treasury, then attempts to get
lines of credit from non-transparent sources could increase, leaving
the country in a more vulnerable position.
urging Zimbabweans to simply accept the results of the elections
pays little attention to the seriousness of the situation at hand.
Many Zimbabweans feel cheated because the credibility of the process
that produced Zanu-PF’s victory was deeply flawed, thereby
also betraying the essence of democracy. The implication is the
return and increase of mistrust and suspicion, and possibly also
the reversal of many political and economic achievements by the
GNU. For the time being, the country’s transition from independence
to freedom remains unresolved.
is an independent political analyst
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