Winning elections and winning State Power is DIFFERENT

Why do opposition allege rigging or call fraudulent elections when agents where not given enough resources?

MDC Alliance President Nelson Chamisa
MDC Alliance President Nelson Chamisa

Once the electoral body announces results, its a done deal, even if the results are to be contested, it’s very rare particularly in the African context to reverse the announcement.

BY Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo

So winning elections, should not be a pre-conceived idea where you rely on meditation because your opponent will be eyeing for the same position. From my own observation, the word rigging is slowly fading and multi -stakeholders may take the concept of rigging as a sign of weaker point from the opposition. Basically, winning elections is another issue and winning state power is something else. Opposition should be strategically intelligent to employ or deploy all ldeas to close all the loopholes of rigging and this is how state power works. One will never get state power on the silver plate.

There must be a matrix which must be worked out to avoid a fraudulent election. Elections require resources and well oiled machinery. You run for an election without adequate and proper resources, expect performance to be dismally. You should not expect miracles on the day of atonement. Every political institution require enough resources and facilities for elections. This is where ruling Governments manipulate elections or either beat opposition parties mainly because they deploy enough resources for these elections, to them it’s a do or die game particularly because of political and economic interests.

How can a political party deploy for example over 5000 polling agents without any cent, no proper food or other necessities? This will be an easier game for the ruling party to manipulate with either paying off the opposition agents, be assured that you either give them 300 Kwacha each, they will give me double, this is not the usual case but there are high chances of such mul-practices.

I have been following elections in Kenya, Malawi, Botswana,South Africa with keen interest and as a Researcher I wanted to understand the depth of analysis out of these findings. What is the statement of problem on these elections which opposition parties allege fraudulent and stolen polls ? What are the key objectives ? What are the research questions? What is the literature review? What are the findings? What is the significance or the important of the study?

Why do opposition claim rigging when results have already been announced? Why do opposition allege rigging of polls when they go for an election without t shirts? Why do opposition allege rigging or call fraudulent elections when agents where not given enough resources? Elections is not about the candidacy, it involves a lot of issues. Why do opposition allege rigging of polls when you impose wrong candidates in constituencies? Why do opposition allege rigging when head counting is not properly on rallies?

The popularity of a candidate is not measured in painting cities or rural areas black or green, the answer is NO. You measure the depth and popularity on ensuring that party supporters are registered and they have casted ballots. Normally rallies gives wrong impression to political leaders. Actually on rallies, only 55-60% will be registered voters or will participate on the polls.

Some will be watching soccer or doing other things. You must ensure that all your potential voters are on the queue to vote for you. In some instance, people come to rallies to eat food, to listen to music, some to measure the popularity of a candidate. My assumption is rallies gives wrong impression on the popularity of a candidate.

Strategies should never be displayed on social media or how you are going to counter rigging. This should be close to your chest. Either two or three people should be aware of the tools. Your opponent or nemesis will be working flat out to harvest information from the opponent and also re-strategies and he will use the weakest point to counter on you. There must be a proper research and development department to work on those critical areas.

Here is my two cents advice ;

1. The word rigging should be rarely used particularly if all strategies have been enforced.

2. Strategic Intelligence is critical.

3. Case studies on other elections is critical

4. Winning elections does not end with figures. You ought to have access to State Power.

5. For example during Michael Sata’ s time when he was in opposition he would know every move that was happening in Government. This is what we call strategy.

6. It’s not 100% obvious that military will be backing the ruling party. This is where opposition must be strategic on how to seek backing when results reflect the true will of the people.

7. The word rigging exists, I’m not denying the fact that mal practises and fraudulent polls exists but I’m simply giving you an advice that the concept is slowly fading.

9. Rural policy is critical. How do you penetrate in rural areas?

10. Rural populace is easily manipulated. Why do you mobilize your own food handouts? The cry baby mentality must stop.

11. One thing you need to understand is that during the five year tenure when ruling parties are in Government, there is an obviously accumulation of wealthy and they have access to financial resources and minerals in all strategic areas. As we speak ruling party ( Zanu PF ) is busy preparing for 2023 polls. They are building a strong reservoir for the next polls. Opposition will be at it’s weakest point mainly because of resources. You need to be strong.

12. Electorate now focus on politics of the belly. Temporary pleasure. The financial literacy overtakes the formality process.

13. Gonna the days when people will campaign with documents, manifestos and heavy use of jargon on rallies. People don’t eat sweet words on rallies, they eat food and they have immediate issues to attend to.

14. Less talking and deliver more is critical in politics

15. My simple question is MDC got over 2.6 million supporters and you tell me coffers are dry ? Why ?

16. 2.6 million X 2 USD each per month can bring to about 5 million USD in preparation for 2023 polls.

17. People will not accept rigging rhetoric songs. They want practicality. What have you done with rigging as a party?

18. Yes the focus is on reforms, but who will reform himself out of power?

19. As we speak diversion tactics will be used by the intelligence to buy time till 2023. Today Mbeki is coming (2019 December), tomorrow dialogue is resuming, next week Mnangagwa is legitimate, next time Chamisa must go for dialogue, next time Zanu PF climbs down and within a short space of time we are already in 2023.

20. Focus on rural areas and mobilisation of resources.

21. Yes you have a popular candidate in the name of Nelson Chamisa, what have you done about it?

22. Do people eat Nelson Chamisa?? Answer is NO. So what ? Turn the Chamisa momentum into a political dividend.

23. It is not the duty of Nelson Chamisa to win an election. It is the duty of the party. What am I saying ? Work hard and bring results on the table.

24. Zanu PF has a problem on the Presidential candidate for now

24 (b). MDC has a problem with 2/3 Majority.

24 ( c) Zanu PF has a problem with selling the candidacy of Presidency

24 (d). MDC has a challenge on retaining 2/3 Majority.

25. Both parties have a headache.

26. Let’s get back to rural constituencies. This is how you do it :

Case study ( Chimanimani)

From day one when Cyclone Idah affected the eastern parts of Manicaland, Zanu PF was on the ground camping there in Chimanimani and Chipinge and in 2023 there won’t be a surprise. Those two areas will fall for Zanu PF.

27. MDC urban areas belong to you, so why holding your meetings in towns particularly Harare? Why don’t you hold your NEC meetings in Chivhu, Buhera or camping with tents and doing some programs?

27. What is in your hands to deserve our vote in rural areas? Key question from the rural populace.

28. Information is key. Ruling party is in charge of ZTV with the drive of propaganda. What is available on your hands to impart knowledge to the rural constituencies and general population?

31. My overview is simple you can’t go to State House without 2/3 Majority and at the same time you can’t retain Presidency without 50+1 vote. So both parties have a headache.

Remember Zanu PF is a military baby ( project) of which they may not afford to lose simply because of the candidature.

So elections are beyond counting figures ( numerically), they involve intelligence and a lot of investment. It’s a long term project and it requires political strategy and strategic thinking.

Finally, the time of slogans is gone and it has faded, be practical on the grounds. Hands on, re-connect with grass roots and structures must be in proper place. Rallies and structures are totally different.

Study the 2013 experience it’s mostly likely to come in 2023. Zanu PF does not lose elections consecutively. Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo is a Policy Advisor and Researcher and a leading Thinker for Zimbabwe Institute of Strategic Thinking. He Holds a B. A from Solusi University, MA from University of Lusaka, Zambia, Post Grad in Project Management from University of Zimbabwe, PhD Cand Women’s University in Africa and B. Sc Development Studies from Zimbabwe Open University and he can be contacted at