Zanu-PF Determined to rig the next elections

OPINION – Zanu-PF has no plans to relinquish power any time soon. There are many things that are happening that would be expected to signal to Zanu-PF that the game is up, but it continues to soldier on as if it has a double guarantee that it is here to stay.

The conviction it has about the certainty of its perpetual rule is seen in the way it continues to invest liberally in its future despite the alarm bells that are ringing everywhere as a harbinger of the party’s imminent demise.

The latest opinion polls indicated that Zanu-PF support stands at a paltry 18%, leaving it with no chance of winning in a free and fair election. Events in the Middle East have triggered a global awakening to the fact that people are able to free themselves from oppression, which makes the future political matrix of many countries unpredictable at best, and volatile at worst. Dictators have tumbled, and more are grappling with the worst uprisings imaginable, with predictions that they will all eventually meet the same fate. The uneasiness of the international community about the prevailing skewed political situation in Zimbabwe, coupled with the changing rhetoric of many international leaders, including some in SADC itself, signals that something momentous may be afoot. Another recent development is that Zimbabwean opposition political parties are gradually gravitating towards solidarity, a development that gives Zanu-PF Kafkaesque nightmares.

This scenario paints the picture of a country that is risky to invest in politically by anyone related to the status quo, yet ZanuPF continues to extravagantly splash cash as if it is absolutely certain that it will still be ruling many decades from now. It is currently squandering cash on a state-of-the-art eavesdropping centre being built by the Chinese in the hope of tightening itsr grip on power for decades to come by having absolute access to people’s emails, Internet activity and telephone conversations. Its leaders continue to grab multiple farms to add to their already bulky portfolios and are proceeding with the plot to acquire foreign-owned firms under the guise of indigenisation. They continue their murderous campaign as if they have never heard of the day of reckoning.

It is difficult to understand where Zanu-PF gets its confidence from given the bleak prospect it is facing in the future. As far as it is concerned, it is going to be in power for a very long time, and there are no two ways about it. Of that it is absolutely assured. The opinion polls are wrong; Zanu-PF will not be scathed by the current wave of protests; voices from the international community that are getting louder by the day had better save their breaths because the ZanuPF regime will remain intact; and the Zimbabwean opposition parties may collaborate, but they will never dislodge Zanu-PF. There is an unmistakeably sinister, cryptic ring to that declaration.

We would have needed the services of a crypt analyst if the Zanu-PF inner cabal had not given a hint of what ammunition emboldens them to make such naïve, intimidatory utterances. Before the 2008 elections the members of the so-called Joint Operation Command vowed that they would never surrender power to an MDC government and that they would never salute Morgan Tsvangirai if he won the election and, two years on, they have lived up to their promises. As recently as a few days ago Mnangagwa, addressing people at a recent lavish Zanu-PF party in Kwe-Kwe, re-iterated the same stance without mincing his words, saying Zanu-PF would stage a coup if it lost the election. That was an acknowledgement of the fact that Zanu-PF knows all too well that despite the thousands of armed soldiers deployed along the length and breath of the country to cow people into voting for it, the hated party will still most probably lose the election.

One thing that should be abundantly clear to the opposition is that Zanu-PF seriously intends to carry out its threats. This is not just some idle talk by men regaling people with comical tales while on a drinking spree. They have learnt that they can flout every statute in the rule book and will seek to do it again. The utterances by Mnangagwa are a wake-up call to the opposition not to be lured into the election without doing thorough groundwork to facilitate the smooth transfer of power after the elections. The problem posed by the stubbornness of Zanu-PF is of such great magnitude that partisan SADC alone will not be able to handle it and it should never be trusted with such a vital undertaking. The opposition should insist on an interim government reporting directly to the United Nations before the elections are held. If people are genuine about free and fair elections no-one should object because that is the fairest way of holding credible elections.

On this matter all opposition parties should speak with one voice and demand that the United Nations runs the elections because it is only that international body that can reign in the bellicose Zanu-PF regime. Do not even think about letting the SADC play this crucial role: if they have failed dismally in the past what makes us think they will succeed this time? Everyone is judged on the strength of their past performance, and SADC is no exception. Its performance is such that we can only afford to respect it by giving it a peripheral role, under the United Nations.

We should avoid the mistakes that were made at the time of the crafting of the GNU agreement, when Zanu-PF got away with the ministries of Defence, Security, and Home Affairs, by far the most powerful ministries, and was even allowed to have a secret budget for the president’s office. Mugabe retained the positions of head of state and head of government, and we have paid dearly for all these wrong decisions, because Zanu-PF mercillessly exploited the weaknesses of the opposition to the full. There are times when you have to stand your ground to have the right outcome that will not make you regret later. Food for thought for all opposition parties, especially the MDC-T, Zimbabwe’s biggest political party.