Zimbabwe is edging closer to yet another watershed election in 2018 and early indications are that, despite claims of being pro-reforms, Zanu PF has not abandoned its bad habits.
Comment: The Standard Editor
Zanu PF has in the past found itself at odds with the international community because it is a party that believes in winning elections at all costs, even if it means resorting to violence and outright bribery.
The country has come a long way since the bloody elections in 2018 where President Robert Mugabe’s supporters and security forces used violence to subvert the people’s will.
Mugabe’s chicanery left Sadc and the African Union without any choice but to intervene in Zimbabwe’s domestic affairs.
Since then, a democratic Constitution has been enacted, paving way for an independent electoral body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to manage polls.
A plethora of other reforms that seemed to address all loopholes that made the country a laughing stock each time there were national elections were introduced by the short-lived inclusive government.
If Mugabe had acceded to proposed security reforms, Zimbabwe would have completed its transformation into a fully-fledged democracy, but this did not happen because of obvious reasons.
Democracy is alien to Zanu PF and some of the party’s leaders have publicly proclaimed that the ruling party would not reform itself out of power.
The party cannot fathom losing an election because polls provide access to the feeding trough for many of its leaders who know nothing else besides pillaging public resources for a living.
Vice-presidents Phelekezela Mphoko and Emmerson Mnangagwa made this clear when they addressed rallies ahead of yesterday’s by-election in Norton where former Zanu PF MP Temba Mliswa faced the ruling party’s Ronald Chindedza.
Mnangagwa told a rally on Thursday that Mugabe had directed him to ensure the party is “victorious at all costs”.
Clearly, the VP’s statements were meant to justify the violence that characterised the run-up to the by-election, which was blamed mainly on Zanu PF supporters.
Mnangagwa also announced that Zanu PF would dole out 9 000 housing stands to its supporters in the small town, in a brazen vote-buying gimmick.
That ZEC remained mum while vote buying and violence played out in Norton was an unequivocal reminder that Zimbabwe is not ready for free and fair elections. Norton was a dress rehearsal for 2018.
What happened in that constituency, is a far cry from democratic elections we have seen being organised by some of our neighbours.
Two years before the elections, Zanu PF is yet to deliver on its 2013 promises to provide 2,2 million jobs and revive the moribund economy.
Instead, thousands have since lost their jobs and companies continue to close down, throwing multitudes onto the streets.
Tertiary institutions are churning out graduates in their thousands yet the economy has no capacity to create new jobs for them because of Zanu PF’s mismanagement.
It is against that background that winning a free election would be mission impossible for Zanu PF, hence the propensity by the party to resort to its default mode of violence and vote buying.
However, it is not too late to stop the horror of 2008 and other previous elections from visiting Zimbabwe again.
Opposition parties and civil society have a responsibility to jettison Zanu PF out of the dark ages to civilisation where elections are won based on issues rather than barbarism.
Zanu PF has to be forced to accept electoral reforms and Zec must be freed from the clutches of a dictatorship so that it can perform the roles it was created for.