By Tendai Mbofana
As the dispute over the recent Zimbabwe harmonized election results rages on – with the opposition MDC Alliance contemplating legal recourse – one can not help but take a different analysis of the officially declared position that placed President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa as the winner with 50.8% of the vote.
Whilst the nation awaits with bated breath as to the outcome of any legal challenge to the results declared by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), under Section 93 of the country’s constitution – which is accused by the MDC Alliance of rigging the elections – the officially pronounced position already reveals so much about Zimbabweans’ apparent rejection of the so-called ‘new dispensation’ of Mnangagwa.
No one can argue that, after the November 2017 military coup that ousted erstwhile dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the recent harmonized elections were regarded by most as both a plebiscite on whether Zimbabweans accepted the so-called ‘new dispensation’ or not, and if they would prefer a totally new political party to lead them.
As far as choosing a new political party to lead Zimbabwe is concerned, it can be argued that – based on the official disputed ZEC results – the people preferred the current ruling ZANU PF party, by giving it a two thirds majority.
This could be attributed to various factors – considering that most of these votes came from ZANU PF’s traditional rural base – characterised by massive vote buying through state resources, the unconstitutional use of traditional leaders in intimidating and ‘forcing’ villagers to vote for the ruling party, the demanding of voter registration serial numbers as a means of threatening voters that their votes would be detected, and the brazen bias of state media against the opposition and in favour of ZANU PF.
… facts that were supported by various regional and international observer missions.
However, what is so embarrassing for president Mnangagwa is that – in spite of the obvious unfair advantages that he and ZANU PF had, and the brazen stifling of the opposition – he only managed to garner 50.8% of the presidential vote.
Do the majority of Zimbabweans prefer ZANU PF than Mnangagwa?
As far as some of the alleged results are concerned, in some constituencies, where a ZANU PF candidate won, Mnangagwa apparently lost!
In fact, if compared to the equally disputed 2013 harmonized elections, former strongman Mugabe arguably obtained 61%, yet Mnangagwa in 2018 had only 50.8%.
So what do these results mean?
Was this a clear rejection by ZANU PF supporters – and the generality of Zimbabweans – of Mnangagwa’s leadership and his entire military coup-inspired ‘new dispensation’?
It would certainly appear as such!
The people’s marches and calls for Mugabe to resign in November last year – in apparent support of the military coup – could have been gravely misinterpreted by Mnangagwa and crew.
As much as the generality of the people were long fed up with Mugabe and his brutal rule, they were obviously not in support of the continuation of the status quo, albeit under Mnangagwa.
Similarly, those in ZANU PF could have ‘supported’ the military coup out of fear, and didn’t have the guts to stand up against the removal of Mugabe.
In fact, it was more than shocking that after so many decades at the helm of ZANU PF – coupled by widespread indoctrination and brainwashing of supporters – Mugabe could just be removed so easily without so much as any protests from the generality of his followers – who not so long ago regarded him as a ‘messiah’.
A statement by ZANU PF chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, during a ZANU PF women’s league meeting with Mnangagwa was very revealing – as she claimed that the only reason that they never opposed Mugabe’s leadership was because of fear!
Was her – and other ZANU PF supporters’ – fear merely limited to Mugabe, or did it also extend to the military, such that they could not resist the coup?
Whatever the case might be, the fact that ZANU PF obtained more support than Mnangagwa at the recent elections might suggest that most supporters chose the ballot box to express their disapproval of the November 2017 coup.
Since ZANU PF is always adamant that election results in the country – since the its independence in 1980 – have been genuine, they would not query that the fact that Mugabe had 61% of the vote in 2013, and Mnangagwa only managed to scrap through with a paltry 50.8%, is a clear demonstration of their disapproval of the ‘new dispensation’.
Although, the Zimbabwe political landscape is very complex, with some even suggesting that Mnangagwa’s dismal performance was due to continued infighting within ZANU PF – this time between the military establishment and ED – I personally still believe that the result was an unequivocal rejection of the so-called ‘new dispensation’ – within the ruling party in particular, and Zimbabwe in general.
That could also explain the apparent lack of genuine spontaneous excitement, enthusiasm, and celebrations across the country after the announcement of the presidential results.
The politics of usurping power has no place in Zimbabwe, and the people have made that clear.
That is why the opposition MDC Alliance is also up in arms with ZEC, as no one will tolerate the apparent rigging and stealing of the people’s voice.
Zimbabweans fought a protracted armed struggle against Rhodesian minority rule, whereby the voices of the majority were never heard and were subverted.
It is very shameful that even former liberation movements in the region – who should understand the ills and evils of subverting the people’s voices – should be found endorsing the alleged rigging of elections, and violence and intimidation against any perceived opposition – even before the exhaustion of all legal channels of resolving any disputes.
What we have witnessed with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Common Markert of Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) blindly giving their thumbs up to Zimbabwe elections without awaiting the exhaustion of legal recourse adds another huge dent on their already soiled reputations.
These organisations are a huge disappointed to the people of the continent, as we end up relying on our erstwhile colonizers for democracy.
It is quite apparent that the people’s rejection of November last year’s military coup, through the dismal performance of Mnangagwa, shows how they crave – in one way or another – for some semblance of democracy – yet, SADC, Comesa, and the AU never raised their voices against this usurping of power.
The people of Zimbabwe have one thing in common – irrespective of political affiliation – their love for DEMOCRACY!
Whether they are in ZANU PF – they will reject any ‘forceful’ removal of their leader – or, in the opposition, where they reject the ‘stealing’ of elections.
Let us all, as the people of Zimbabwe, come together in peace and unity and finally realize that we are all on the same side, and should resoundingly reject any subversion of our voices.
Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is the Programmes Director with the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice (ZimJustice).