Zimbabwe is not Kenya and Kenya is way ahead!
In a landmark ruling delivered in Nairobi today, the High Court of Kenya quashed the award of the tender for printing of ballots for the August 8, 2017 presidential election to Dubai’s Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company. The three-judge bench ruled in favor of the opposition coalition National Super Alliance (NASA) who argued that the electoral body had failed to consult political players before opting to contact the printing firm through direct procurement. This is the second victory for the Kenyan opposition in their fight for an even electoral field. In January 2017 Kenya’s Court of Appeal ruled that presidential election results can be declared at the constituency level, rejecting a plea by the electoral body that the tally can only be announced at a national counting center in the capital. In May 2016 Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga told Al Jazeera that he would not run for elections if the electoral body is not reformed: “We will not go into the gallows. If the Electoral Commission is not properly reformed there would definitely be no reason for us to participate in the coming elections.” Uhuru was free to go it alone or create opposition to contest against him but still no fool was going to give him legitimacy when the country’s largest opposition did not participate. It is too early celebrate for the Kenyan opposition. Uhuru, being the incumbent may still have a few tricks in his bag but reality is he has been pushed back and caused to sweat for victory.
Then compare and contrast with the opposition in Zimbabwe. It is brazenly clear President Mugabe is done and dusted with the 2018 election.
Fighting wrong battles
As late as August 2016 Odinga was saying I will not participate in a flawed election. Until now they are still fighting for reforms. In Zim the opposition is busy fighting about who shall lead the coalition. I am of the opinion that the grand coalition issue is a CIO strategy meant to pre-occupy the opposition till the election and even thereafter. So the first wrong battle is the coalition nonsense. if its about the MDCT we all know that they have won elections in the past without any help from another opposition party. What denied them victory was a biased electoral system which will still work even against a coalition. Forget about fake surveys which claim Zimbabweans trust Mugabe to lead them beyond 2018. I just feel the researchers are tired of predicting an opposition victory that never materializes and for once they want to be seen to be making correct predictions even if it means cooking their surveys in their offices.
The second wrong battle is the election itself. Since 1980 elections in Zimbabwe have served one purpose – confirming Mr Mugabe and ZANU PF dominance. It has never been about allowing citizens the chance to chose their leaders freely. I, like many other Zimbabweans, have experienced the terror of elections. Its a mini-civil war. Elections are a huge waste of people’s lives and resources. Thousands of innocent lives have been lost and homes burnt down due to elections that never change anything. If anything our country has been falling backwards by more than 50years despite holding an election every 5 years. And yet ZANU PF has been so fortunate to have a very generous opposition that sing along every tune they compose.
At the moment the opposition must be making serious demands (like NASA) and making court applications, holding mass demonstrations demanding electoral reforms and placing adverts in newspapers outlining their demands. We need public meetings in colleges and public spaces to discuss whats wrong with our electoral systems and what need to be done for us to hold credible elections that truly reflect the will of the people. If the opposition feel Makarau is compromised they have a constitutional right to demand her dismissal. Even in soccer a team has every right to protest if they feel a ref is likely going to be biased against them. The electoral system in Zimbabwe is such a huge mess that it only takes real fools to expect an electoral upset come 2018. But its never too late to make right decisions.
What if other parties contest if we boycott
The electorate are not fools. leave it to the people to decide. In 2000 we had a constitutional referendum and I was part of the Vote No campaign. People wanted a new constitution but because we went out to inform the people to reject the draft constitution they did so. Right now genuine opposition must be going out to the people educating them on how flawed the electoral environment is and justifying why they wont participate. I am aware too many wolves in sheep’s clothing are out there to devour the sheep but genuine opposition is not moved by that.
We must be having street protests demanding an even electoral field. ZANU PF is a contesting party and if they have nothing to hide they must accept the genuine demands for a free electoral environment. If they resist reforms then thats enough evidence they are benefitting from the current electoral system and an advance warning of an electoral whitewash for the opposition.
Lets come to a standstill
Before we talk of elections we must come to a standstill. We need a crisis that will ignite a genuine conversation. No one must be allowed to enjoy life when 99.999 per cent of the population have made their bed in hell. We must dismantle the current social order and from its ashes rekindle the Zimbabwean dream. Then and only then, will we have leaders that we deserve.
But then this is Zimbabwe and not Kenya