This week Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairwoman Justice Priscilla Chigumba was forced to restate a position she has been making. That nothing short of an earthquake would stop the July 30 harmonised elections. That’s just about 40 days away.
“Let me put the law into perspective,” she said for the benefit of opposition political parties, “The first thing to take note of is that once the President has proclaimed the election date, there is nothing short of an earthquake that can stop the election.”
She was making the point that no electoral reforms can be legally entertained now.
Justice Chigumba was being as polite as one can be when dealing with people who should know the law.
Otherwise they deserved to be told to go out in the country to campaign, to tell Zimbabweans how they are going to finance their spaghetti roads, bullet trains and village airports.
That is to say, elections are won or lost on the basis of policy alternatives. Not trying to hound independent constitutional bodies going about their work.
But the opposition has made demands for so-called electoral reforms and fighting ZEC its vote-catcher.
Alternatively, says Chamisa and his alliance, they will boycott the elections.
If they think these infantile threats constitute an earthquake, they need to think again.
In fact, such threats may backfire.
Since about 2007, the MDC-T has threatened to boycott elections if its fanciful demands are not met.
Very little changed.
They participated in subsequent elections and lost. Not necessarily due to absence of reforms, but in the main because they always make sure to confuse the electorate at the most critical stage of the electoral roadmap.
They don’t have a sellable programme. And Zimbabwe is angry over the issue of sanctions they caused to be imposed on the country.
We are stating the obvious in saying the MDC-T and its alliance partners do not confer legitimacy to local electoral processes.
There are this year 23 presidential hopefuls who do not share the MDC-T’s view of the world and will try their chance at the top job.
There are around 133 political parties of all persuasions fielding candidates.
It is not Government or ZEC’s business to force a political party or presidential candidate to participate in an election.
We are a democracy where one is free to make a choice.
It is therefore perturbing that there are political parties which want to abuse the democratic space to blackmail the whole nation with threats of boycotting elections or demonstrations.
Unlike his predecessor, President Mnangagwa has been very accommodating.
He has thrown the doors wide open to foreign and regional observers. There is nothing to hide.
Under such circumstances, it becomes evident every day that it is the opposition that is seeking to undermine confidence in the country’s electoral system by trying to impugn the integrity of ZEC.
It is a tactic too cheap to be taken seriously.
The more such, the more even foreign observers begin to take them for posturing.
The MDC-T is insulting the intelligence of the men and women of goodwill coming to observe our elections by poisoning the situation in the country.
The MDC-T’s childish tantrums are in sharp contrast to the Zanu-PF presidential candidate, and voters will notice.
President Mnangagwa has been very accommodating. He is preaching a message of peace and unity. He has pledged a free and fair election. On the ground, he shows tangible projects that should spur economic recovery — a major priority for the country. That is where elections will be won.