Once again election season is beaconing. Manifestos are being thrown here and there; and as usual, politicians are jostling for votes and are acting like they care too much for the electorate.
By Benson Sithole.
This also happens to be the first election where both the former president Robert Mugabe and the leader of the biggest opposition party, Morgan Tsvangirai, are not participating, which in itself comes with a fresh headache for the electorate as to which legacies either of their successors will seek to promote.
Zimbabwe has registered a significant increase in the number of political parties contesting, with some report claiming that over one hundred parties are registered. Despite all this, the true contest seems to be between the incumbent, Emmerson Mnangagwa (ED) of Zanu Pf and Nelson Chamisa (NC) of the MDC Alliance.
But why should the electorate be encouraged to ignore an ED vote ?
Ever since the military coup that took place in mid November 2017 and ED came out as the new president for both Zimbabwe and Zanu PF, Zimbabwe has had a tipsy-turfy kind of lifestyle whereby no one really knows what tomorrow has in store for them.
The ruling party has been in power for the past 37 years and has presided over a meltdown in the country’s economy, and most of its politicians are known to be proverbial bootlickers who are just after advancing their own agendas. Many people are now just fed up with the party and want a fresh start, with new ideas to take over hoping that this will lead to the country having a fresh breathe of life.
When ED took over, it was the hope of many that the thorny Gukurahundi, where the government unleashed the notorious North Korean trained Fifth Brigade force against the Matabeleland and Midlands people, an action which allegedly led to the deaths of more than 20,000 people, most of them innocent and defenseless civilians, would be resolved. No-one an reverse time and undo the atrocities but closure is what’s really lacking.
This then poses a few problems for ED whereby the nation needs to know what really transpired at the time, but he is too reluctant to respond and that also leaves the opportunity for various versions to be thrown around. For that, ED doesn’t deserve a vote.
Corruption is an infection that is chewing away at the very moral fabric of this society and ever since ED took over power and having promised to deal decisively with the vice, action on the ground has been somewhat disappointing.
For those who are well versed with politics, they can tell you that ED is biding his time so that when he eventually has a new five-year mandate then he can deal with corruption. He doesn’t want to create new enemies from his own camp hence his silence, but to the ordinary Zimbabweans out there, this inaction is a sign of not wanting to commit and lack of action breeds frustration. That’s the only stuff that can lose one crucial votes. Former government minister Ignatius Chombo and a few other alleged criminals then around former President Mugabe have been arrested and some have even run for dear life into exile but a lack of decisive action will cost ED votes.
ED is in a catch 22 situation whereby if he doesn’t deal with corruption, he loses the ordinary voters and he is also bound to lose also should he decide to deal with the corruption as well.
For the first time in the history of Zimbabwean politics, there has been a very high number of youths registering to vote. Voting is known traditionally as the general public voicing their decisions through the ballot, and it’s also common belief that most youths have suffered at the hands of Zanu PF, so they may want to get rid of ED as well as Zanu PF in these elections. Although it is not so clear which party the majority of the youths belong to, most people believe it is resoundingly in the favor of the opposition. The youths also may have taken ED’s decision not to name any youths in his first cabinet as a way of him saying he does not want anything to do with them, so they may also not want to align themselves with him.
Just the name alone sends shivers down the spine of a growing constituency of voters. Terrence Mukupe, the deputy minister of finance, seems to be in a competition against everyone else of wanting to destroy Zanu PF. His performance or lack thereof in a debate against the revered Tendai Biti, a former finance minister himself and leader of the People’s Democratic c Party (PDP) and one of the principals of the MDC Alliance, exposed not only Mukupe but his principal who threw him in the deep end by sending him to debate against a shrewd politician like Biti. Mukupe has been gracing the media for all the wrong reasons, from manhandling civil servants to shouting obscenities live on national television, does not augur well to the electorate. It loses Zanu PF and ED himself a few votes.
As highlighted earlier, ED now finds himself between a rock and a hard place whereby if he listens to popular schools of thought and fires Mukupe, he loses one of his allies and those who bootlick the latter or he stands to lose the public by not firing Mukupe. Either way this loses ED a few crucial votes
In the close to eight months that ED has been at the helm of the Zimbabwe government, he has promised a lot of things to the populace. From the 100 days policy to the investments boosting, people have heard it all. It may not be his problem that his message that ‘Zimbabwe is open for business is not receiving enough backers, but the promises made and action on the ground do not tally. His deputy also is dividing the country with his acid tongue and the electorate has grown tired of these promises without due action. The Zimbabwean voter needs a decisive figure who promises and delivers. ED is trying but the jury is still out on if he will be able to convince enough voters through that.
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