Farirayi Machivenyika Senior Reporter
The Nomination Court sat last week and after a staggering over 133 political parties had registered with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), only 23 people managed to file as candidates for the presidential race, leaving us wondering where the other 110 had gone.
Mr Speaker Sir, only a few weeks ago I said there was need to have some form of regulation to manage political parties so that we have some semblance of order in the political arena.
Obviously there were some among those parties that had joined the bandwagon maybe hoping to get something, materially that is, upon getting political power and others, like Egypt Dzinemunhenzva or Sekuru as Bryn Mteki is now known, want to add drama and a lighter side to our politics.
Now let’s get back to the matter of this week’s instalment.
Now that the Nomination Court has sat and we know who have thrown their hats into the ring, it is time to observe the activities that will unfold in the coming few weeks.
ZEC has to be commended for availing the electronic copy of the voters’ roll to political parties and observers given the sensitivities whether justified or not around this document.
Mr Speaker Sir, to some of us the opposition have generally hinged the explanation for their perennial losses on the unavailability of this document and we hope that this will put paid to their usual arguments.
The Government, led by President Mnangagwa, has done so much to open up the political space that even demonstrations that were unheard of a few years ago are now being done while people express themselves more freely than they have done before.
Even MDC-T (or is it Alliance) founder member Mr Eddie Cross has admitted that this year’s election is going to be the most orderly that the country has had (dating back to the colonial era).
This coming from a senior figure in the opposition movement is an acknowledgment of the good work that Government has done and should be commended.
Mr Speaker Sir, it is therefore our hope that other figures in the opposition movement acknowledge the strides that Government has made in ensuring a free, credible and transparent election.
Mr Cross even alluded to the fact that even some of the so-called mature democracies took over 600 years to reach the levels they are at yet are far from perfect.
In just six months, the new Government has made these significant achievements and it is up to the players that filed their papers last week to ensure that we don’t lose the gains we have made in such a short space of time by campaigning peacefully.
Everyone should be afforded an opportunity to campaign peacefully. It is regrettable that some elements in the MDC Alliance seem to think that the space to oppose Government is exclusively theirs and have resorted to violence against anyone who doesn’t tow their line especially against their erstwhile colleagues in the MDC-T led by Dr Thokozani Khupe.
Even on social media the party’s supporters have called anyone who challenges their position various names, mostly insulting, yet they are the ones who cry out loud for freedom of expression.
This is not entirely surprising given the penchant for violence the Nelson Chamisa group has exhibited since wresting power following the death of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mr Speaker Sir, President Mnangagwa has pledged to meet with all contestants to the presidential election so that they all agree to some ground rules to ensure a free election.
As we reported earlier in the week, this initiative, which is a first of its kind, will hopefully ensure that everyone’s concerns are taken care of so that come the results after July 30 no one complains about the conduct of the elections.
It is not debatable that the main contest in the coming election is between Zanu-PF led by President Mnangagwa and the Chamisa-led MDC Alliance.
It is therefore the conduct of these two parties and their leaders that is going to define this election and we hope that they will ensure that it is conducted peacefully.
It is also commendable that ZEC has not turned away any foreigners that have shown interest to observe our elections because after all there is nothing to hide.
With the measures that have been implemented by Government, it’s now up to the political parties and their presidential aspirants to sell their manifestos to voters outlining what they want to do to move the country forward.
The competition should be about brain and not brawn; what the people want are ideas, realistic, if I may add, as we work to get the country moving forward again.
Hopefully all the presidential candidates will soon be detailing what they intend to do for us as a nation.
This election is indeed record breaking and one must hope that all the parties, independents and presidential aspirants are driven by the desire to uplift the livelihoods of people and not their lives.