Holding elections in 2012 before electoral reforms and a change in our political culture will be a mere political ritual and facade to mask an unpopular dictatorial and authoritarian regime.
The signing of the Global Political Agreement and the consummation of the unity government was a transitional mechanism to put an end to political violence, work towards peace, restore economic stability, author a new constitution and prepare for the holding of free and fair elections under a level playing field.
The continued squabbling and utter disregard by Zanu PF of this arrangement show that the unity government has outlived its usefulness and is now teetering on the verge of collapse hence the need for an election that will usher a new political dispensation.
The eminent need for an election has broad consensus, the great question of the day remains when and what sort the environment the next election will be conducted. An election for the sake of holding an election will neither improve the quality of life for ordinary citizens nor help Zimbabwe rejoin the family of nations from which it has been booted out because its democracy and governance deficits.
Globally, because of its universality, democracy is now a subject of broad consensus, high on the priority list of the international community. The following are the major issues concerning the environment and the administration of elections which if unresolved, Zanu PF is guaranteed of another disputed “victory” and the region should either prepare for the facilitation of yet another unity government or prepare to protect their citizens from a war spill-over into their countries when Zimbabweans get fed up and confront the regime head on.
The major stumbling block to the people’s free expression of who they want to represent them in Zimbabwe at the moment is violence, intimidation and general closure of democratic space.
The bloody clashes witnessed in Chitungwiza recently are reminiscent of the 2008 sham elections and cause physical and psychological torment to the victims and witnesses of such inhuman acts of political terrorism. Equally some perpetrators of such callous acts are not spared from trauma since most of them are doing it either for money or to please the Godfathers of violence.
Violent tendencies by a political party are worrying, but the possession of a well-oiled infrastructure and associated paraphernalia for violence by a political party which purports to represent people’s interests is disgusting.
In one of Zanu PF’s post 2008 songs, the kongonya dancing women loudly and unashamedly sing: “zvikaramba toita zva June”— (If we fail we will resort to the June (2008) strategy).
If the levels of unrepentence and celebration of impunity in Zanu PF are not curbed, violence will become a fast spreading political tumour impeding national healing with the possibility of the country sliding back into a violent epoch characterised by loss of limb and life.
It is now time that the people of Zimbabwe come together within their communities and device non-violent strategies of ensuring that “zvaJune” will never be repeated again.
Until and unless the people of Zimbabwe are guaranteed that “zvaJune” will not happen again, the holding of an election will just serve the purpose of legitimising a discredited regime which is now surviving on violence and thuggery to usurp state power from the leaders Zimbabweans will have chosen to represent them through the ballot.
The use of the state security apparatus as a military junta either perpetrating violence directly or commanding the violent lumben elements in Zanu PF is well documented in a report by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition entitled: The military factor in Zimbabwe’s political and electoral affairs.
It is an undeniable fact that Zanu PF has over the years relied on militarising socio-economic and politico-electoral affairs of the state to block civilian participation in key national processes. If the involvement of the military in swaying the vote is not addressed, there is no point of going into an election whose outcome is predictable.
The police have played a midfielder role for Zanu PF through deliberate misinterpretation of POSA to ban meetings of the opposition and, through selective application of the law, penalise opposition supporters and allow perpetrators of violence from Zanu PF to commit crimes with impunity.
The police need to be non-partisan and be at the centre of ensuring that campaigning is conducted in a free and fair manner in the next election.
BY BELOVED CHIWESHE