So fair and foul a day have I ever seen! The battle has been lost and won.
From the Editor’s Desk by Nevanji Madanhire
Is might right? Or, is right mighty? In politics winning has nothing to do with being right; it’s a game of survival of the fittest. In Zimbabwe’s political jungle, Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF were the strongest contenders; they won because they were not fettered by political moralism. That is how political parties operate in electoral contests the world over.
Like in Ragnar Rebbeard’s book Might is Right, political parties reject conventional ideas of human and natural rights during elections and argue that only strength or physical might can establish moral right. That is why elections are games of numbers, no matter how one gets them.
Morgan Tsvangirai should concede defeat and live to fight another day. If indeed Zanu PF manipulated the elections, as has been their habit, it is because they exploited some weakness or weaknesses in their opponents. The scale at which Zanu PF is alleged to have rigged the elections is so huge it could only have succeeded against a sand-blind opponent.
It is that sand-blindness, not the extent of his defeat, that Tsvangirai should bemoan. The voting that took place on July 31 was the final event of a process that Zanu PF initiated with the negotiations for the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
They signed the GPA in all its nobility to give the world a dummy; they were bruised after the June 27 2008 fiasco and desperately needed to regroup. In signing the GPA and accepting Sadc’s tutelage, they duped the world into believing they were prepared to transform, yet all they needed was breathing space. They got it and used it to their advantage. Tsvangirai and MDC missed this salient point.
With the government of national unity in place they activated the process reneging on the key clauses of the GPA while cleverly manipulating the Sadc and its appointed facilitator, President Jacob Zuma. Throughout the life of the GNU, they experimented with how far they could push Zuma and, therefore, Sadc.
This way they saw Sadc’s weaknesses and exploited them to the full. The extent to which they could push Zuma was seen when they forced him to turn against his foreign relations adviser Lindiwe Zulu, the only person in Zuma’s facilitation team who seemed to have balls.
Tsvangirai cannot say he was not warned. Many metres of space were expended in newspaper columns to warn him against conceding too much ground to Mugabe.
He was warned about the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and advised he should fight tooth and nail to ensure it was disbanded and reconstituted. But he was manipulated and allowed it to remain in its original shape and size.
Many questioned the coming in of Justice Rita Makarau, a known beneficiary of Zanu PF largesse. But Tsvangirai personally defended her appointment saying she was the “politically correct” person to head the electoral body.
Zanu PF began to reconnect with the masses during the constitutional outreach programme. The March 2008 harmonised elections had shown them they had lost the masses’ support. During the outreach they spelt out policies that resonated with the people while the MDCs concentrated on abstract issues such as international best practice in drafting constitutions.
Zanu PF spoke to the people’s desire for a piece of the national cake; land and indigenisation resonated with the people’s needs and the party impressed upon them that all these could only be secured if the country’s sovereignty was secure. They were able to whip up anti-West sentiment which translated into an anti-MDC feeling because the MDC was portrayed as an agent of the West.
Zanu PF also spoke to morality issues and singled out homosexuality as a Western practice that the MDC wanted legalised in the country. Tsvangirai was not helped by his declaration after a visit to Britain that he personally thought homosexuality was a human rights issue. He was probably right but it was not politically correct to make that declaration in the circumstances that faced him.
Homosexuality became an electoral issue when in fact it is a non-issue in Zimbabwe; those who practise it do so in the privacy of their bedrooms.
Zanu PF realised as early as February 2000 that their political survival depended on the people. When they lost in the constitutional referendum, they realised they had disconnected with the masses.
In the ensuing 10 years, they used both persuasion and coercion to reconnect. They had already managed to do so by March 2008; although the MDCs won more seats in the House of Assembly, Zanu PF won the popular vote.
After Tsvangirai narrowly won the Presidential Election in March 2008 and was forced out of the run-off of June that year, popular local and international sentiment swirled around him.
He revelled in it and forgot the importance of continually speaking the language of the masses. His whirlwind tour of the rural areas a month before the elections, though well-received, appeared to be on the spur of the moment.
The events of the 30 days or so before the elections must have shown anyone who dared look that the game was over. The establishment of the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) and appointment of Zanu PF-linked judges thereto was a masterstroke by Zanu PF strategists.
The Sadc Charter says there should not be any interference with the laws of member countries.
So when the ConCourt ruled in favour of Jealousy Mawarire in the Mawarire versus RG Mugabe and others case, “forcing” Mugabe to declare July 31 as the election day, the die was cast. The ConCourt rendered Sadc’s oversight role impotent, in effect it replaced the regional body as the arbiter of the Zimbabwean crisis.
Under its oversight dramatic event followed dramatic event in quick succession as the Registrar-General’s Office cut the duration of voter registration from a month to a little under a fortnight and cutting out completely voters’ roll inspection resulting in parties only having access to the register just before the elections.
In several ways the election was not fair, even African Union and Sadc observers have acknowledge this. But it was Tsvangirai and the MDC’s naivety and lack of political acumen that allowed Zanu PF to run roughshod over them, leaving the country in a state of shock and despair.