Farirai Machivenyika Mr Speaker, Sir
As the election date beckons the MDC Alliance is becoming hysterical in accusing ZEC of plotting to rig the elections in favour of Zanu-PF. The Alliance, which to all intents and purposes is just a reunion of the original MDC members, has made a number of unsubstantiated claims of how ZEC is aiding Zanu-PF, but critically, it has failed to self-introspect to see how it is failing to sell its vision to the electorate.
Mr Speaker Sir, it is important that we go back to the last elections held in 2013.
It was at the height of internal struggles within the MDC-T in the aftermath of their heavy loss at the polls in 2013 that then secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti went against his colleagues and admitted that they had lost the elections not because of vote rigging but because Zanu-PF had a better message that resonated with the electorate.
Mr Biti and former treasurer-general Mr Elton Mangoma went on to split from the MDC-T led by the late Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and formed the MDC Renewal.
However, Mr Speaker Sir, the issue we are focusing on is the denial of any Zanu-PF rigging in the last election by Mr Biti at a Sapes Trust policy dialogue meeting organised by Dr Ibbo Mandaza.
In his own words, Mr Biti ruled out any rigging and went on to praise Zanu- PF for packaging its message well to attract voters.
In case there are some who have forgotten, this is what Mr Biti said: “Zanu- PF in the last election had a very simple message, Bhora mugedhi. Even a little woman in Chendambuya or Dotito (like he often likes to say) just knew one thing, Bhora mugedhi. Perhaps we were too sophisticated, but what was our message because the message of change of 2000 is not the message for now.”
He went on to say the opposition party did not have anything tangible to convince the electorate.
“We were selling hopes and dreams when Zanu-PF was selling practical realities. ‘We (Zanu PF) are going to give you a farm, it’s there. We are going to give you $5 000 through (Saviour) Kasukuwere’s ministry.”
Furthermore, Mr Biti said their message was high-sounding nothing devoid of substance.
“How do we transit and balance the message of hope with the message of immediate delivery?” Biti asked.
“I think we didn’t do well in 2013 (elections). A message is a slogan, it’s mascara and it’s make-up. What is the substance? This is where we need to articulate an alternative value system.
“What was our position on indigenisation? We had JUICE, yes, it was good but trying to explain it to Mai Ezra in Chendambuya, you understand what I am saying? So the issue of articulating an alternative discourse which is walked and lived is very important.”
Mr Speaker Sir, the question that then arises is: Has anything changed in the opposition from this analysis by Mr Biti in 2013?
To some of us the answer is no, nothing has changed.
The spurious demands and empty threats to boycott the elections go to show that they still do not have any message to sell to the electorate.
It is clear that their strategy now is to find excuses to justify their impending loss in the elections by coming up with childish pretexts to repeat ad infinitum after July 30.
Just like in 2013, the MDC Alliance is still selling hopes and dreams with the only difference being that they now expect different results. The airports, bullet trains and other “pie in the sky” promises will not bring them votes. It is that simple.
It is clear that the Alliance does not have any policies that can improve the livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans and has resorted to soiling the image of ZEC to save face.
Zimbabweans are well aware of what they want and it would be foolish for any politician to take them for granted.
Mr Speaker Sir, Government has gone out of its way to make this year’s elections as transparent as possible, which is why some of us find the demands being made by Mr Nelson Chamisa and his Alliance unreasonable. They are tantamount to wanting to usurp the constitutional obligations of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
ZEC is mandated to conduct elections without undue influence from anyone. What Chamisa is doing now amounts to intimidation and is a threat to ZEC’s independence.
Mr Speaker Sir, it is therefore important that all political parties and players taking part in the elections respect the independence of the electoral management body and stop inundating it with frivolous and sometimes outright unconstitutional demands.
Mr Speaker Sir, it is also important that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces has reiterated their commitment to abide by the dictates of the constitution.
The military have been the target of numerous complaints by the opposition, most of them devoid of substance. The military has repeatedly set the record straight for the benefit of the public.
As we have said before, political parties should take advantage of the peaceful environment that has been created by President Mnangagwa’s administration to sell their vision to the electorate and not waste time causing alarm and despondency among the electorate.
ZEC should be left to do its work without hindrance and we should condemn attempts by some players to become referees in a match they are playing.
It’s, however, interesting that despite the empty threats of boycott which we have become accustomed to, the Alliance still has a full programme of campaign rallies.