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Zimbabweans lose confidence in voting

The July 31 harmonised elections are now a done deal; President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have won the mandate to rule Zimbabwe for the next five years.

From the Editor’s Desk by Nevanji Mdanhire

Or, is it forever?

One of the most far-reaching implications of the just-ended elections is that a huge part of the Zimbabwean voting public has lost faith in the efficacy of elections.

It is going to be very difficult to convince them to go out to vote come the 2018 elections. This takes the country back to the late 1980s and the 1990s when voter turnouts in national elections were all very pathetic.

Zimbabwe, as a vibrant democracy is no more; in its place is a country with all the remainders of one-party rule.

The apathy that is set to ensue from now onwards is very easy to explain. It will not characterise people in opposition only, but also those in the ruling party.

From party primaries to national polls, people have seen that it’s not their preferred candidates who eventually prevail. The whole process is stage-managed right across the political divide.

Zimbabwean politics is in the hands of Big Brother figures whose will is imposed upon the people; be it Robert Mugabe denouncing Marian Chombo in Zvimba West, or Morgan Tsvangirai imposing Simba Makoni in Makoni Central, or Welshman Ncube dictating that Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga in fact hails from Umzingwane.

The frustration with the electoral process therefore begins right at party level. But it gets worse at the national level. It is now clear to all and sundry that bodies that should run elections can never be impartial.

Looking at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, for example, it is patently clear that it is an appendage of Zanu PF. The people who run it and have run it for the past generation are appointees of the ruling party. They are therefore obliged to deliver the desired result to their masters.

People now believe the result of any election in Zimbabwe is pre-determined by this body and therefore it becomes difficult for them to believe in the importance of elections to decide their future.

Zimbabweans now know the Registrar-General is openly partisan, and has never hidden his political party colours. They know R-G uses his position to manipulate the voters’ roll. He is not answerable to anyone and does whatever he wishes with impunity.

The result of this is that voters no longer trust his office. Going forward, a lot of people will just not bother to have anything to do with that office, meaning they won’t even be bothered to cast their votes in future elections.

To most people the Registrar-General’s office has become a shadowy institution dabbling in shadowy activities. The Nikuv issue has made this perception even more entrenched.

No one, except the Registrar-General himself and perhaps a few others in the corridors of power, know exactly what role this outfit played in the just-ended elections. Whether Nikuv’s hands are clean or dirty, no one will ever know. This has left a big stain on the image of the Registrar-General’s office.

For many years to come, Zimbabwean voters will believe that elections in their country are run by Mafia-style organisations that help in the rigging of the elections.

Instead of the Registrar-General coming out clean and explaining his office’s relationship with this organisation and the millions of dollars he paid it, he has chosen to be opaque about it.

Voters want to feel that they possess the electoral process in their country.

Once they believe their elections are run by foreigners, they begin to lose faith in the process. Many stories, real or fictitious, have been spun around Nikuv, and the word “nikuv” has become part of the Zimbabwean lexicon.

Whereas the majority would have expected the R-G’s office to clear the air, the atmosphere around this Israeli organisation is becoming more and more clouded.

Come 2018, many people will ask themselves if it’s necessary to register to vote, let alone cast their vote, when they believe the result is determined in Tel Aviv.

Zimbabweans also now have the perception that they cannot trust the judiciary to arbitrate their political and electoral grievances. Any country’s judiciary must not only be independent and impartial but must also be seen to be independent and impartial.

People begin to question the impartiality of the judiciary when a certain pattern emerges in the way it deals with electoral grievances.

The work of our learned judges is not being questioned here, but they must be reminded that a perception has been created which they must disabuse themselves of. Voters want to have legal recourse, but when this becomes an exercise in futility, they feel helpless and resign to their fate.

Zimbabweans have also learnt that they cannot depend on outsiders to help them in their hour of greatest need. The Southern African Development Community and the African Union showed that they have great limitations as far as solving a country’s internal problems are concerned.

Leaders in Africa have shown a tendency to side with the strong instead of the weak.

Perhaps this is a defence mechanism for the time they too will be challenged in their own backyards.

There have been times when some Zimbabweans looked to North Africa for inspiration in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring, but the picture up there isn’t good following the bloody events in Libya and Egypt where the violent deposals of dictators have left the countries worse off than they were under the strongmen.

Zimbabweans generally must be applauded for their belief in legal means rather than force to change their governments although this hasn’t yielded any positive result.

In the time between now and the next general elections, political parties have a daunting task of trying to convince the voting public that casting their vote is worth their while.

Because of Zanu PF’s huge majority in parliament, it is highly unlikely they will use their tenure to clean up the electoral process. They are unlikely to change the composition and mandate of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

They are also unlikely to tamper with the Registrar-General’s office because they will need these two institutions intact when Mugabe’s successor comes into play.

Whichever way one looks at it, Zimbabwe is in the hands of Zanu PF for many years to come and periodic voting will be perceived only as serving to legitimise its one-party rule.

14 Responses to Zimbabweans lose confidence in voting

  1. Rukudzo August 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    U have written a lot of rubbish before but this is worse than crap

    • shapiro August 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

      I totally agree. Whats the point of waiting for 2018 elections when we know zanu pf will steal them again in broad daylight with the support of the courts. i reaaly feel ashamed to be an African. We have so low standards for ourselves. Those Zimbabweans who have emigrated and acquired citizenship of progressive countries have saved themselves the mental toture of living under a zanu pf govt.

    • Pensula August 18, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

      You nailed it. We are waitn for nothing but external intervention.
      I still believe people for change are more than 85% of the population but are just deprived of the opportunity to vote. Tym will come when all these Egyptians shall die and go..

  2. robobo August 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    excellent article !
    Now to capture Mudede and give him “truth serum”.
    Then we find out exactly why he is still in that job and still rigging elections for Mugabe.

  3. Colonel August 18, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    Wakarwadzirwa nokuwina kweparty yevanhu ZANU PF.Rwadzirwa chero ukazvisungurira kana imbwa hadzidye nyama yako.

  4. chimwango August 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    You can say that again writer and I am going to read your article again.These dictators are very ruthless.Vote apathy is going to affect urban areas.In rural areas they will just force march people to go and vote like they have been doing all along.What a cursed nation we are.Does God see what is happening to us I just wonder.

  5. Truth August 18, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    Singing for your supper from Trevor , clever , but in your heart you know that pple don’t like tsvangirai at all . Mdc must rid us of this pathetic fool , otherwise he will take it down with him .

  6. Kidman August 18, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

    Im happy we have finally given the courts their rightful place. A right wing of the ruling elite. Dont approach them otherwise we legitimise matakanyanya embwa idzo. They deserve to die all those treasonous judges…

  7. Chambuma August 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

    Mugabe should be wary by the amout of praise that hes receiving.
    From a ‘clean’ landslide’ to an election viewed as ‘peaceful’ by Sadc to a non resistant and complying opposition.
    Be warned my friend your downfall is going to be harder than your rise.

  8. Maikios Pembuka August 18, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    You are shortsighted my friend. Zpf knowing very well they stole an election shall spearhead a brutal crackdown on all opposition members.
    They know they are not wanted by the people and shall force themselves unto the people through violence and the fist.
    Mark my words mdc and dont be caught by surprise like what you did on the elections.
    Brace for the ‘buy legitimacy violence’.

  9. taurai mabhunu August 19, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    And you, Mr Editor, as the Independent media, are supposed to investigate, dig out the dirty and give it to us. Not this shoddy commenting as if you are me, an ordinary Zimbabwean with no resources to carry out an investigation. You should investigate this Nikuv, tell us what they do, how and when they did it, who contracted them, etc, etc. Instead you write what you don’t know, just casting aspersions and getting people to doubt yet you have time, resources (and, maybe, brain??) to investigate. It’s your job Nevanji. You are failing to do your job!

  10. Musona August 24, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    You state that “Zimbabwe as a vibrant democracy is no more” as if it ever was a vibrant democracy? When was it a vibrant democracy in the 33 years? how can you sugest this when the country has only had one ruler since 1980?

  11. Cde Manesi August 27, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    How Zimbabweans come out to vote in their largest numbers ever,and at the same time show lack of confidence in the same process to which they come in unprecedented numbers is a little or very unclear.Is it not instructive that higher voter turn out means people are confident of the power of their vote?This Nevanji Madanire is still drowning at the deep end like Tsvangirai,is yet to connect with the reality of the needs and spirations of the electorate.Peole want to be their own masters,not servants to Tsvangirais “friends with a lot of money..” from elsewhere.

  12. umsomi olomnyathi August 30, 2013 at 12:44 am #

    we do not need to lose confidence in voting but we need to find a new approach and a new team with new ideas.
    we need a steve biko of zimbabwe, young man like mnyaradzi gwisai and proper diaspora not the washed up crap of vigil watchers who were as boring as the zanla pungwes of the liberation struggle fame.
    all said and done we need men of substance that is amadoda sibili, not amadoda emadodeni, (these are men who shag other men) whilst amadoda sibili are those men who impregnant women and not waste the human race, we really need such men in our next phase.

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