Over the past few weeks I have found myself losing faith in my fellow Zimbabwean citizens in terms of their capacity to uphold democratic principles, as espoused in the founding documents of the two main political parties, my own MDC-T led by Morgan Tsvangirai and its main rival Zanu PF.
Sunday Opinion with Geoffrey Nyarota
My loss of faith can be traced back to Sunday, June 9 2013, the day on which the confirmation of sitting Member of Parliament for Makoni South Province, Pishai Muchauraya took place at Mutungagore Business Centre in the constituency. The process was marred by a number of irregularities which culminated in a petition being submitted to the MDC-T leadership at Harvest House in Harare.
The party failed to address the very serious issues raised in the petition, resulting in a decision being taken in the constituency for me to submit my papers at the Nomination Court as an independent candidate. Our strategy was that we would campaign for party president, Morgan Tsvangirai, and myself as parliamentary candidate. Our slogan is, “Tsvangirai kuState House; Nyarota kuParliament” [Tsvangirai to State House; Nyarota to Parliament].
In Makoni South Tsvangirai will obviously benefit from association with my name than that of my rival.
But since nomination day, June 28, the independent candidates — and there is a huge number of them — have been bombarded with exhortations and pleas to withdraw their nominations in favour of the very rival candidates who stole the ballot from them on June 9, as in the case of Makoni South. The song has remained the same: “Withdraw your nomination so that you don’t split the vote in your constituency”.
Spearheading this campaign against the independents was none other than Prof Jonathan Moyo, the two-term MP for Tsholotsho. In an exceedingly long article in The Sunday Mail, he confessed that he had cut a lonely figure in the House of Assembly over the past five years. He therefore admonished us not to stand on the basis of his own experience.
But Moyo’s predicament is not surprising. In fact, it was predictable, given his background. Straight from the Tsholotsho debacle he fell out with Zanu PF. He then approached the MDC-T and worked out a deal with them as a result of which, the party did not nominate another candidate in his constituency for the 2008 election. He therefore won through the grace of the MDC-T.
Having secured the parliamentary seat Moyo then did the unthinkable — abandoned the MDC-T and took the seat back to Zanu PF. Being such a maverick and Machiavellian politician, is it any surprise that Moyo was lonely in Parliament? Fellow politicians hated him with a passion on both sides of the House. Now he has the temerity to suggest that because he was lonely, every other independent MP will have no allies in the House.
The so-called analysts are now filling newspaper columns with versions of this arrant nonsense.
Talking of analysts, just who identifies Zimbabwe’s burgeoning ranks of analysts? If they are really worth their salt, they should conduct research and inform their fellow countrymen on why there are so many independent election candidates in 2013. What is the cause of this strange phenomenon? They would be rendering a better service to Zimbabwe instead of focusing on de-campaigning the large number of the independent candidates, some of them hard-working and quite popular.
Independent candidates have no resources, they declare. This may be true but none of the analysts takes the trouble to check the balances in the candidates’ bank accounts or their ability to borrow or to fund-raise. So how do the analysts know the state of the candidates’ finances?
As it is, the conscience of a son of Makoni South was stung by the disclosure in the press that independent candidates did not have resources to fund their campaigns. He telephoned me about my needs on Friday, July 5. By the evening of Sunday, July 7, a consignment of freshly printed posters and fliers were delivered to my homestead at Gwangwadza Township in Nyazura — all printed for free.
The independent candidates have now been labelled as rebels, not by the parties, but by the press. As this perception that we are rebels gains credence I have been approached by a host of people — ranging from fellow politicians, lawyers, a banker and the host of analysts through their newspaper articles, among others.
All of them have pleaded with me to withdraw my nomination. Their reason has been the same. It has been that so that Muchauraya and I do not split the vote in Makoni South.
On questioning they have all confessed that they have never set foot in Makoni South. None of them has taken time to consider the reasons that set in motion the emergence of the independent candidates in the first place — election rigging.
*Geoffrey Nyarota is a parliamentary candidate for Makoni South Constituency