IT doesn’t need rocket science to appreciate that the Zanu PF regime, fronted by President Robert Mugabe, is slowly but surely disintegrating. It is now a matter of when, rather than, whether, the moribund Zanu PF regime will crumble like a deck of cards. Whichever way you look at it, Zanu PF has now entered the homestretch. The end is nigh.
The main thrust of this opinion piece is to locate Zimbabwe beyond the Robert Mugabe’s one–man dictatorship. It is apparent that Mugabe has never before been faced with the kind of internal revolt and unprecedented challenge to his hold on power like the one that is presently playing out. This paper argues, without any shred of hesitation, that Mugabe’s tenacious hold on State power is now very tenuous and under serious threat.
Literally, Mugabe is now living on borrowed time. Things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold. Fortunately for the wily and crafty political gladiator that Mugabe has always been, he knows that his hold on power is about to break down beyond redemption. But the old man is not going to go down without a concerted and vicious fight; make absolutely no mistake about that.
Granted, the political opposition to the Zanu PF regime is not as strong as it was about ten years ago, but then, there is also a very strong and persistent opposition to Mugabe’s rule that has been festering within the deeply divided and factionalized Zanu PF political edifice. This is the end game.
Even top military officials have summoned enough courage to blatantly refuse to be retired by Mugabe. This just goes to show that these top military officials have virtually decided to show the old man the middle finger. Going forward, it cannot be business as usual. Things can no longer be the same. Zimbabwe is heading towards very exciting, if not downright dangerous political times.
The ongoing BVR exercise has come a shed too late. It will definitely not be able to produce a credible and legitimate national voters’ roll in time for the 2018 plebiscite. Experiences in other parts of Africa such as Uganda, Kenya, Cameroun and Namibia, show that the electoral body needed at least three years to roll out an efficient and credible biometric voter registration exercise.
Put bluntly, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), has got insufficient time between now and the holding of harmonised elections next year to efficiently and effectively roll out a credible BVR system. Painful as it is to state, this is the cold, hard fact. Somebody has got to say it as it is and this writer makes absolutely no apology in disclosing this apparently depressing piece of news.Advertisement
Wither Zimbabwe beyond 2018? Various scenarios are beginning to emerge. Chances are if we go for elections in 2018, the plebiscite will be so massively rigged in favour of the incumbent ruling party to such an extent that no right-thinking person will term the election free and fair. ZEC is simply not up to scratch. As presently constituted, it would be much easier for one to sell ice to an Eskimo than to expect ZEC to conduct a free and fair election next year.
Administratively, ZEC is in complete shambles. Besides being severely under-funded and hopelessly poorly administered, ZEC is still grappling with the confusion and ambiguity surrounding the central computer system that will operate the BVR system. One will have to be a complete idiot to believe that ZEC is in full control of the electoral process in Zimbabwe.
ZEC needs not only massive funding and training, but also, a lot of time to operate an efficient and credible BVR system. As it is now, everything is just hush hush; there’s no thorough preparation and implementation of the BVR system. This could actually be the main reason why there is general lack of excitement and enthusiasm around the ongoing biometric voter registration exercise.
We might, actually, have a situation whereby leading political players and other relevant stakeholders might have to urgently convene an all-stakeholders meeting to brainstorm the fiasco around the BVR system. This writer will play the devil’s advocate and fearlessly propound the argument that it is foolhardy and very silly and stupid, to stampede a whole country into an election whose result is already pre-determined and rigged.
Is there any harm in postponing the elections a little bit in order to make sure that we have a credible and reliable national voters’ roll? This is certainly worth considering because it might turn out to be politically reckless and economically disastrous to stampede the country into a hurried and ill-prepared election. We have to bite the bullet and accept that we have got a very long way to go before a genuinely free and fair election can be held in Zimbabwe. Elections should never, ever be haphazardly and hurriedly conducted if Zimbabwe, or any other country for that matter, is going to evolve into a mature and stable democracy. What’s the point of trying to put lipstick on a frog? A frog will always remain a frog, with or without lipstick.
If we are no careful and strategic enough, Zimbabwe will actually rapidly descend into the chaos scenario. The vicious and relentless infighting within the ruling party has actually permeated into the security sector and this is very dangerous for national security. We don’t another bloody civil war in Zimbabwe. The people of Zimbabwe have already suffered enough tribulation and stress through decades of one – man oppression, rampant corruption and chronic mismanagement of the national economy. We are a severely traumatized people as it is. We urgently need breathing space. We can’t continue like this a year longer.
This writer is not, by any stretch of the imagination, proposing that Zimbabwe should have a GNU 2; not at all. My argument is simply that we will be very foolish to rush the nation into an ill-prepared and illegitimate election. Thus, there has to be a practical and lawful way of navigating around this abyss. It can be done and in fact, it must and will be done. A team of reputable negotiators from across the political, civil society and even religious divide has to be urgently put in place to discuss the various scenarios that will effectively extricate Zimbabwe from the prevailing political and socio – economic cataclysm.
Before anyone starts accusing me of having smoked something hazardous to my mental health, we really have got to take the bull by the horns and appreciate that the 2018 elections, if they proceed as per schedule, will be thoroughly shambolic and will most certainly produce a result that is neither free nor fair.
Zimbabwe is at the crossroads and of course, some very tough and difficult decisions have got to be made urgently. Mugabe is an old man and, beyond 2018, he will certainly not be a political factor to contend with. That is basically the way it is. We simply have to accept reality and forge a workable and sustainable way forward.
There are a number of people who are already vying for political office in either Parliament or in the various local authorities. These people might actually be offended by my line of reasoning because they can’t wait to occupy their targeted political offices that come with a little bit of money and other perks.
But then, this writer is looking at the bigger picture for our beloved motherland, Zimbabwe. At this juncture, we don’t need short term and shot gun solutions to our various political and economic challenges. We have got a patriotic duty to urgently look at the bigger picture and in the process, come up with and design sustainable and progressive long-term solutions rather than just being fixated with our own narrow and selfish personal ambitions. This opinion piece also aims at provoking robust and frank debate around the future of our country. The current opposition, in whatever form or nature it appears, is solidly ill-prepared to solely resolve the deeply-rooted political and socio-economic challenges facing the country. We are terribly under-funded and rather ill-organised and in some cases, actually deeply divided amongst ourselves.
This is the real truth which we shouldn’t run away from. In equal measure, the ruling Zanu PF party is at sixes and sevens. They have never been this divided and factionalised throughout their entire history. Thus, we need urgent and unprecedented political engineering in order to chart a brand new progressive political and economic trajectory for our beloved country. Post-2018, there is actually a real possibility that Zimbabwe might emerge with a unique and never-been-seen-before government in order to soft land the long-standing national political and economic crises.
To those amongst us who might be impatiently eyeing various political offices in next year’s elections, you might have to hold your horses a little bit. There are more pressing political hygiene issues that we should deal with before we rush to hold the elections. In the Shona language, there is a saying that states: kumhanya handiko kusvika. Loosely translated into the English language, this simply means that rushing things through doesn’t necessarily mean that you will arrive at your intended destination. Zimbabwe is currently in a political cul de sac. And as the Italian political scientist and scholar, Antonio Gramsci, once stated ‘’the old is refusing to die and therefore, the new cannot be born.’’
In the meantime, Zimbabweans, in our millions, should still turn out and register to vote in the ongoing BVR exercise. As has already been stated herein before, the BVR process is actually long term and it might take a little bit of a longer time to come up with a truly credible and legitimate national voters’ roll. This is a good beginning, however, notwithstanding the glaring shortcomings in the ongoing process. At all costs, we have got a patriotic obligation to prevent a total collapse of the State as a result of the collapsing Zanu PF regime coupled with the deeply divided and rather clueless political opposition. Out of the ashes and rubble of the Zimbabwe Ruins, we definitely should be able to reconstruct the Great Zimbabwe.
Written by Obert Chaurura Gutu in his personal capacity.