By Shingirai Vambe
Zimbabwe- While preparing and working towards holding of its harmonised elections, a rear mirror is put to use dating back to November 2017, when the whole nation celebrated the ouster of former President, the late Robert G. Mugabe.
Soon after his resignation, Mugabe told the media during an interview that his expectation was of a pro-democratic process in the selection of his successor and next leader of the ruling Zanu PF party. Let’s give him a chance; this was everyone’s opinion, including those in the opposition political parties.
Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa promised people air pies and sun crush. It is a paradox that even as the nation forges ahead with the much-anticipated election next year, the previous presidential election result that snowballed Mnangagwa in office remains shrouded in mystery.
Fast forward to 2022 where ZANU PF is trapped in the snares of desperation and cluelessness in as much as galvanizing support around their sole presidential candidate – Mnangagwa. Bereft of ideas, political wit and tact everything is being unintelligently framers as standing for ED, teachers, doctors, musicians, women and several other groupings are all touted as being for ED. Thus, against the realities of heavy deafeat ZANU OF under ED is likely to suffer, electoral history is on the verge of repeating itself as ZANU PF will likely do all it can to retain presidency control of all the levers of government.
In Makoni District Zanu Pf supporters and war veterans declared that voting for the opposition was an invite to the reign of terror. The same statements were echoed by former head of security and Mnangagwa’s henchman Owen Mudha Ncube who was heard proclaiming that in terms of violence ZANU PF would unleash to opposition sympathizers, what occurred in 2008 was better? Following the defeat of ZANU PF and Mugabe in the first round of elections in March 2008, the military junta took over the reins and unleashed a reign of terror amongst people ahead of the slated 27 June presidential run off which the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had to withdraw citing persecution of his supporters.
Narrowing of democratic space in Zimbabwe continue to increase, political activists are being incarcerated while private media is also being chased whenever there is a state function. Majority of journalists have been arrested, released without charge and some beaten, cameras and cell phones destroyed and stolen during political events and programmes.
Reports have been produced by Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and the Election resource Centre (ERC), of observed events before during and after elections since 2018, not a single report has a positive statement of how elections are run in the country.
Political violence is now the order of the day, the police continue to selectively apply the law and only those who are not from the ruling ZANU PF party are at faulty, in fact no single arrest has been made for perpetrators of violence, including those from Nyatsime who went after members of the opposition political party. Instead the affected persons are the ones behind bars and the murderer of the Moreblessing Ali.
In their report ZESN said “it does not promote insurgence, does not and has never mobilized the electorate to participate in any form of violence as these defeats its numerous calls to end violence in elections in line with provisions on the holding of peaceful, free and credible elections”.
Why and how did they arrive to this point? The two electoral bodies are cited as supporters of the opposition in Zimbabwe for reporting what they would have observed during election. It is now public knowledge any different opinion is regarded as coming from an enemy not a citizen or organization of repute.
This development has grown over the years and more sinister situation is likely to be seen before election. National Election Watch Report confirms that already 95 cases of arbitrary arrests and 50 cases of intimidation and assault have been recorded so far.
The report then states that, it leaves the general citizenry vulnerable and susceptible to abuse by political actors, while elections will be far from free or fair.
“Zimbabwe is a signatory to the international covenant on civil and political rights (ICCPR) and the constitution of Zimbabwe allows for civil and political rights in chapter 4. But political conduct and civic functions have been criminalized in the country. Civil society plays the role of bridging the gap between the market, government and the people,” reads the report by NEWR.
As a result, Youths, women and majority in the rural areas have decided not to participate in the electoral processes, a survey has shown. Majority have highlighted cases of intimidation, arson and violence, while others questioned the credibility of the ZEC.
Statistics have shown that only 51 thousand people have registered so far, and the population is currently at 15 million. Total number of voters is plus or minus 5 million. It has also shown that institutions like Parliament, has failed to execute its duties as it ought to, the same way the Courts and Local authorities have operated for the past 4 years.
Rural Councils have been handled differently with the urban councils. Running with unaccounted devolution funds, blotted parliament that has closed on so many occasion due to finances; the ruling Zanu Pf party managed to buy hundreds of vehicles distributed during the congress but many institution including that of Health, does not have paracetamol.
All this in preparations to win elections then continue with business.
The Economic situation of the Southern African country, Zimbabwe, has negatively gone down, with majority earning not more than US $200 per month instead of at least US $1500 per month considering changes in the global market caused by natural disasters and of cause, the Russia-Ukraine war.
Zimbabwe has however used these situation as a scapegoat to a number of arising issues, which ministers each time they are asked why certain things are happening the way they are, they point to the war, earlier they would put the blame to covid-19 yet some of the challenges are purely administrative and governance issues.
According to various reports and that by the Auditor General, the Government of Zimbabwe has failed to uphold its mandate as shown in the report, as they fail to account for public funds and being transparent to citizens on how much is received and used for national development.
Ministries such as Agriculture, Industry and Commerce, Mines and that of finance have been on the spotlight, grilled during the pre-budget seminar, the price of fertilizer comparing with other countries in the region. Royalties and owners of various mines in Zimbabwe and challenges with energy affecting industries and its costs, these are some of the issues raised during the conference.
As if there is anything new, since time immemorial, the country’s budget has always been an issue. The 2023 budget which is ZWL $4.2 trillion is almost equivalent to the 2010-16 budget of US $4 billion per year, now with major changes on the income of civil servants who used to get over US $500 per month.
The budget is said to be an anti-people budget, it does not address the bread and butter issue, at the same time not responding to critical ministries such as education and health.
In the August House, the Minister of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare, Paul Mavhima, respond and say there are enough food reserves for every vulnerable citizen of Zimbabwe. World Food Program (WFP) says otherwise, more humanitarian support is need in Zimbabwe than before as million are starving.
Questions’ now being asked across the board is where the 3.8 percent growth coming from? Various institutions including the World Bank have said otherwise.
Whose report shall we believe?
The Ministry of Agriculture has spoken of investment towards farming seasons, bumper harvests, and thriving efforts to alleviate hunger. Minister of Industry, Sekai Nzenza, could not respond rather blaming the war as the driving factor of soar prices of goods and services in Zimbabwe ahead of 2023 general election.
A look into the success story of the second republic, more and more challenges have risen over the years, Parliament has crafted and drafted laws that are said to be Anti people, draconian and Anti-developmental; first with the Private Voluntary Organization Bill, the patriotic bill to mention just a few.
While pushing for provincial councils to be set, this was unfruitful proposal by Norton Member of Parliament, Temba Mliswa, raising a very pertinent legal issue of the devolution funds that are being looted every day.
Both Parliament and responsible ministries have turned a deaf ear to this important issue, however proving beyond any reasonable doubt that there is no progress, transparency and accountability to governance and monetary issues in Zimbabwe.
Beans spilling off into two critical ministries that are currently being eyed, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) ministry and the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services. Technology has overtaken and ICT is the way to go, both ministers, Monica Mutsvangwa and Jenfan Muswere are at loggerheads one being objective with the moving times while the other using his or her positing and stamina in the party and government.
How are majority of citizens getting information of the going-ons in Zimbabwe, through social-media as 50 percent of the citizens have resorted to use satellite following challenges with frequency signal in most parts of the country, and these hardly watch or listen to national programs and events?
The discriminatory-marginalization aspect has made some of the citizens not to participate in the electoral process notwithstanding the conduct and process done by the electoral body.
Quite a number from the ruling Zanu PF party in parliament, have shared their displeasure with the Post On Sunday on the economic-political situation in the country, which is forcing them to take leave from participating in the upcoming general elections including other various reasons.
The long and short of it, there is no rule of law in Zimbabwe instead there is rule by law, having some members of the society abusing the law and the enforcers as well and this has resulted in many deciding to go abroad as nurse aids this including one professor who was lecturing at the University of Zimbabwe.
The opposition being also part of this circus.