By Solutions Tower Staff.
STARVED for change Zimbabweans have continued to endure both frustrating and endless electoral near misses each time the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has gone out to announce disappointingly and unbelievable, though predictable election results since 1980.
It is now as if taking polygraph tests on Zec’s Commissioners must become law in Zimbabwe in order to reduce the attendant risk of results manipulation each time Election Results are announced.
Zimbabwe is restless, and has become a ticking time bomb, with the endgame now almost in sight.
Questions are now being asked:
“Is 2018’s going to be the mother of all elections; the biblical Armageddon itself ?”
Or ” Is 2018 going to be yet another disputed election – another missed opportunity for Zimbabweans to bring their country back on track?”
Will freedom, and not mere hallucinations of a meaningless independence at last become the order of the day for the motherland ?
What about the envisaged electoral coalition of Zimbabwe’s opposition political parties: Is it now the new game in town capable of outsmarting a tried and tested Zanu PF rigging rollercoaster ?
With stakes highly tilted in favour of the country’s revolutionary party – including a pliant State machinery – what realistic chance does the Grand Coalition have against an entity determined to win elections at all costs?
Quite a litany of questions, indeed, but one thing seems conspicuous; and that is a whole bunch of opposition political parties already decided on a Grand Coalition as suddenly the only way to defeating the biblical beast – completely oblivious to the significance of vigorously pursuing, at one and the same time, an equally important electoral reform agenda.
Zimbabwe needs to learn from history, and draw vital lessons from the 1980 watershed elections and thereafter interrogate themselves – basing on a projected outlook of the 2018 electoral playing field.
In 1980, with the economy a honeycomb, Zanu PF’s only plausible message was its ability to call for an end to the bush war; and that did it.
There were other tactics that Zanu PF also resorted to, however, including its tried and tested reliance on brute force to bring voter compliance.
It is to be understood that during the Second Chimurenga War, numerous atrocities were carried out by mostly Zanla forces in the name of the liberation struggle. Horrific tales of torture and rape have been narrated but that was the war.
But should the same trend be permitted to go on in independent Zimbabwe ?
Needless to say, the fear factor has thus permeated Zimbabwe’s entire political terrain, bringing trepidation in both the countryside and cities during election period.
Continued merciless thwarting of all democratic descent by disgruntled citizens has not helped matters either, and Zimbabweans seem to have lost all confidence in democracy as a regime change philosophy.
But with Zimbabwe’s economy in the doldrums, the political game plan has also now shifted, and no longer requires mere grandstanding or posturing.
In view of the above, has opposition been able to up its game, and mobilise itself to sufficiently appeal to a traumatised voter populace, including ably talking them out of a deep seated fear-phobia of a now clueless Zanu PF party ?
Zimbabwe’s Opposition should move away from a preoccupation with mere power matrices, but be able to explain to both urbanites and their rural folks why they are better placed as an alternative to Zanu PF whose only refrain is mostly their participation in a war of liberation now long gone-by.
Zimbabweans need reassurance, and that calls for an immediate and serious outreach programme throughout all of Zimbabwe. Accordingly, those that seek high office must be prepared to risk life so that voters oblige in turn. Assuredly, many Zimbabweans are now just sick tired of the status quo.
The Opposition should also go on a voter registration campaign and ensure that the majority of households register to vote as soon as the Biometric Voter Registration unrolls.
It is also to opposition’s advantage, in case a Grand Coalition is achieved, to ensure that primary elections for all electable positions are democratically administered, including those of House of Parliament Representatives and Local Municipal Councillors.
In addition, the envisaged Grand Coalition would have a lot to gain if it were to put in place a think tank. The think tank would, among other things, compile and analyse available detail of all previous voting patterns, and in the process allow for measures that would rectify opposition’s past strategic weaknesses.
People who, in the past, have been used as conduits of violence should, this time around, be monitored with a view to preempting their destructive practises. Surely, violence should never be celebrated and accordingly, perpetrators should be disabused. No stone should be left unturned.
The Grand Coalition should, this time around, avoid all trappings of power – including participation in a flawed election.
In 2013, for instance, the regional body, Sadc, had sternly advised against participation by the country’s opposition forces in an election process that was without far reaching electoral reforms.
But the Opposition decided to take part anywhere, but not without dire consequences.
What became the result of acting against SADC’s advice ?
The Opposition was both mauled and whitewashed by Zanu PF, leaving Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC T cry babies mourning: “We ‘was’ robbed.”
Still, nothing has changed at all now to justify opposition participation in Zimbabwe’s 2018 plebiscite.
In the same vein, the Grand Coalition should as well guard against infiltration in to their structures by Zanu PF.
It is imperative, therefore, that the Grand Coalition maintains a high degree of patience, and not allow power hungry individuals to arm twist it in to an election in 2018 before implementation of adequate electoral reforms.
From a constitutional point of view , it will take another five years, with a possible heavy toll on the country’s socioeconomic prospects, before another election is called in 2023. So, Zimbabwe’s Opposition must get its Election Strategy for the 2018 Elections right so that it can wrestle power from ZanuPF.
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