ZANU PF will not concede to any electoral defeat as it fears being held to account for widespread human rights violations it is accused of committing over the past four decades.
The claim was made this week by top academic Tony Reeler in an opinion piece on the rising political crisis in Zimbabwe, which has seen the main opposition party – MDC Alliance – being systematically dismantled through parliamentary recalls, induced splits and defections to Zanu PF over the past year.
According to Reeler, who is also the co-convener of the Platform for Concerned Citizens, some senior Zanu PF and government officials were unsettled over their ‘massive’ looting and corruption they committed in the past four decades.
Zimbabwe’s elections have for years been disputed amid accusations of vote rigging and violence against opposition supporters.
“Zanu PF cannot afford to lose political power for two reasons; It fears being held accountable for all the gross human rights violations committed over the past 40 years. It fears accountability for the massive corruption that has increased under the new dispensation,” wrote Reeler.
He added that Zanu PF’s strategy to retain power was centred on dismembering the opposition citing recent recalls of dozens of MDC Alliance MPs from parliament as an example.
“The first strategy of the ruling party is, therefore, to continue to dismember all opposition forces, political and civic, to ensure that it will be the only major political force able to contest an election in 2023.
“The recall of all the genuinely elected MPs of the MDC Alliance (most recently Tendai Biti) and their replacement by unelected appointees of minority proxy political parties, is central to this strategy.
“Through the demolition of the MDC Alliance — cutting it off from financial support and creating multiple contestants for its political base — Zanu PF has a forlorn hope that it will need neither coercion nor rigging to win the election in 2023.”
However, Reeler urged the MDC Alliance to regain the status of a mass movement and recruit civil society as a partner in “winning the streets”.
“Winning the streets does not mean protests and demonstrations. It means bringing the masses together in clear, articulate and consistent demands — exactly what is missing from all the chatter about dialogue.
“Demanding dialogue requires there be an intention, an end goal. It is not open ended, but has to have a rationale accepted by the people as a whole. For example, the single most important demand in the late 1970s was one person, one vote: without this, nothing could have changed in Rhodesia.”
He said this solution had been evident for five years now.
“If the MDC Alliance is courageous enough to take this step, it will become part of the solution and not part of the problem in Zanu PF’s manipulations. It will join churches, labour, the women’s movement, the youth and the citizens in forcing change.
“Furthermore, if the demands from this broad front are articulate and specific, there will be a focus for mediation and Zanu PF will have to consider dealing with a national response rather than a range of inarticulate requests for dialogue, which they happily dismiss in favour of the discredited POLAD process.”
POLAD stands for Political Actors Dialogue.
“It is definitely time for opposition political parties and civil society to come up with a national response to a national crisis: the ordinary, deeply suffering citizens of Zimbabwe deserve no less.
“It is also time for the region and the international community to unite in a cohesive push for a mediated settlement. This needs to be supported by SADC, which also needs to admit that Zimbabwe is patently not adhering to the SADC Treaty.
“During the dark years of apartheid, Zimbabwe stood in solidarity with the people of South Africa. The Zimbabwean people ask no less of South Africa today. South Africa must follow up on its very tentative steps from 2020 and honour its unfulfilled promise to return to help find a solution,” added Reeler.