Reputable Elections Only Guarantee for Economic Rebound

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDCT President Nelson Chamisa
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC Alliance Leader Nelson Chamisa

DEEP rooted human rights, political instability, respect for the rule of law, high level corruption and a properly constituted regulatory framework are some of the major governance problems that dog many developing countries, including Zimbabwe.

By Ophias Kurauone.

Some analysts believe that such governance deficiencies may potentially leading to both some direct and indirect negative effects on the economy. Regional and international business communities take exception when it comes investing in hostile environments like that currently obtaining in Zimbabwe.

Repressive laws easily scare away investors, be they locals or those from abroad – capital simply has a reputation of being timid.

Governments now no longer have any place to take cover from some of their nefarious inadequacies given the expanding regime of Non-Governmental Organisation  that “spotlight” such abuses, with aim to “name and shame” the most egregious offenders.

In an attempt to mitigate such a “sanction of the market”, corporations have become increasingly attuned to societal ramifications of their behaviour, “codes of conduct” regarding compliance with ethical principles and social norms in business operations have proliferated.

As Zimbabwe is heading for  crucial harmonised elections, recent comments by some high and influential political figures as Honourable Terrence Mukupe and a Masvingo based seasoned politician Josiah Hungwe can fuel political instability in peace loving Zimbabweans, and as a consequence undermine democracy, the rule of law, accountability, and other social institutional variables despite effort  from  his excellence the president of Zimbabwe, Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa to preach the gospel of peace and free and fair elections.

Events Before and After Elections

Zimbabweans need to learn from recent developments in Honduras and Kenya. In Hondurus, there were lots of human rights violations that were witnessed between elections day on 26 November 2017 and 27 January 2018 – the day on which the its President was inaugurated.

Reports from a United Nations Human Rights organ states that at least 22 civilians and one police officer were killed during ensuing protests. Of these, at least 16 people, including two women and two children, were gunned down by Security Forces. The report also documents the killing of 15 individuals in the run-up to the country’s elections, including party candidates, municipal councillors and activists.

In view of the above, it is incumbent upon all political parties to avoid both intra party and inter party violence as evidenced in recent primaries.

The primary elections of the two major political parties, the ruling party (ZANU PF) and MDC-T were marred by chaos and political violence. Needless to say, violence threatens democracy and economic development.

It is worth the while for the electoral body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to ensure care, in particular that the proper management of electoral rolls is a pre-condition for a free and fair ballot to avoid disputes which will led to  disputed elections, thereby causing further rifts on the political and economic stability of the country.

The effectiveness of the right to stand for election is undoubtedly contingent upon the fair exercise of the right to vote. The planned demonstration by the opposition party (MDC Alliance) is a major concern, as this has the likelihood of causing political violence between the two main rival parties, the ruling ZANU PF and the MDC Alliance.

Resultantly, State Security organs may be forced to intervene with aim to protect ordinary citizens.

The opposition party led by the youthful Nelson Chamisa is accusing the Zec of mismanaging the voters’ role. There are accusations that Zec has been militarised and also not the less    phobia of a “Nikuved-scientifically designed ballot paper”, denial of  access to public and state media of the opposition to public media such as The Herald, Chronicle and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, among other disconcerting grievances.

The opposition views the above variables as a threat to free and fair elections as earlier promised by his Excellency the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa. This could diminish the party candidates’ chances of an equal chance against ZANU PF, says the opposition.

On the other hand, the electoral authorities has had the challenge of remedying those manifest shortcomings in the electoral rolls within very tight deadlines in a “post-revolutionary” March 2018 political events, and it would thus have been an excessive and impracticable burden to expect an ideal solution from the authorities.

The existence of a domestic system for effective examination of individual complaints and appeals in matters concerning electoral rights is one of the essential guarantees of free and fair elections. The recent dismissal of the case of diaspora votes by the Constitutional Court is a cause for concern. Zec should create a system which ensures an effective exercise of individual rights to vote and to stand for election, maintain general confidence in the State’s administration of the electoral processes.

The electoral law must guarantee the resolution of disputes within a period of time suited to the electoral process. It is crucial here to ensure that the outcome of elections is not delayed as what happened in Zimbabwe’s 2008 presidential election which saw the opposition leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai, taking an early lead in the first round against his closest rival, the former president Robert Mugabe.

As Zimbabweans, there is need to learn from the 2008 elections which were marred by post election violence. Hundreds of innocent civilians were killed, tortured or displaced. The army and the police headed by the current vice President of Zimbabwe  Constantino Chiwenga and Augustine Chihuri respectively, were in support of the ruling party headed by the former President Robert Mugabe and were merciless known supporters of the MDC -T, even going on to publicly declare that they will never salute the opposition leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai.

Such statements by the two most powerful security officers clearly  undermined democracy and in the process fuelled political violence and instability.

It is hoped that the “new dispensation’s  motto, which tends to promote peace and good governance and continues to be repeated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, will be put carried out in letter and spirit. In addition, overzealous ministers such as Mukupe, Hungwe and others should follow the president’s call which promotes peace and respect of the Constitution in order for the attracting of FDIs and sound economic development.

The period between the filing of a complaint and when it is dealt with should be very short to avoid conflicts and political violence. This requirement is per se a challenge for judicial systems. It involves critical considerations regarding the efficiency of the judicial system and the relation of the courts to the electoral administration.

For instance, on September 1, Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the August 8 elections, in which the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had declared President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner with over 54 percent of votes.

In compliance with court orders, the IEBC scheduled fresh elections for October 26, but the withdrawal of Raila Odinga on October 10 created uncertainty on whether the elections would take place on the stated date. The elections were marred by serious human rights violations by Kenyan Security Forces who used excessive force to break up protests and carried out house-to-house operations, particularly in opposition strongholds in Nairobi and western Kenya. At least 12 people were killed by police in western counties of Kisumu and Siaya alone and another 33 in Nairobi during the violence. It is without doubt that both the pre- elections and post elections period will be peaceful to avoid the Kenya situation.

Political Violence and Foreign Direct Investment

Political violence influences these government policies, and foreign investors will take political violence into account when they make decisions on the investment location and amounts to be invested. Zimbabwe has an unenviable reputation for being the most politically violent country in Southern Africa, certainly, since the civil wars in Mozambique and Angola, and the independence of Namibia and South Africa.

Since the 1990s to date, the country has been the subject of violent elections, mass displacements, and continuous repression in 2000, 2002 and 2008 elections. Statistics from World Bank argue that during that period, economic crises in Zimbabwe deepened and were characterised by hyperinflation. Foreign direct investment significantly decreased.  The deeper concern on the role of the military grossly affected the political atmosphere in the country.

The propensity for a state-party conflation, as well as the resort to violence in countries such as Syria, South Sudan and Democratic republic of Congo, has been well-noted for Zimbabwe. Political stability affects the location decisions of FDIs.

Despite numerous studies identifying determinants of FDIs, one factor to receive much attention owing primarily to high quality political data risk. Logically, it should be the case that political risk will have a significant negative impact on FDIs. Political instability increases, uncertainty in the economic environment, thereby lowering the incentives for foreign investors to invest into the host country. Recent comments, therefore, by top politicians and state media have no space in modern societies as they fuel hatred and are an impediment on the Zimbabwe’s economic development.

In addition to the potential “sticks” of potential instability and policing organisation, there are ways in which respect for rights and the rule of law provide a “carrot” for potential investors. The respect for human rights can provide both direct and indirect mechanisms for encouraging FDIs.

Many analysts believe that countries with less repressive laws attract more investment. It is believed that citizens unafraid of a violent government retribution are more willing to contribute their time, resources and skills – and more importantly ideas – toward the economic good of their country.

Since 2002 the exodus of many highly qualified professionals such as engineers, accountants, medical doctors and other technicians negatively affected economic growth and the development of Zimbabwe.  Furthermore, there is often a vicious cycle between different facets of human rights, as countries that respect personal integrity rights are more likely to provide educational opportunities.

The abductions and arrests of human rights activities such as Jestina Mukoko, Itai Dzamara and other activists have had a negative consequence on the political, social and economic development of Zimbabwe. In this way, personal integrity protections can indirectly influence FDIs through its ameliorative effect on human capital as Zimbabwe was isolated from international community for nearly two decades.

It can be concluded that Zimbabweans are urged to shun political violence during and after the elections to avoid the country plunging into deep crisis and turmoil like  Syria, Afghanistan , Jordan and other politically unstable nations which are characterised by political violence, brutality, torture displacement of civilians and  economic crises.

Politicians, Government, media,  human rights activists, traditional leaders, political party supporters, the electorate and other key stake holders such as Zec, should acquit themselves well for the promotion of democracy,  peace, transparency, rule of law , good governance and avoid repeat of the 2008 elections which were marred by political violence, and as a result the country faced a mammoth economic crisis  which left  many Zimbabweans in dire poverty.

 Ophias Kurauone is an academia, a Scientific researcher in Management Science and Engineering. Copyright © , 2018 All Rights Reserved. The Solutions Tower Article may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission