Friday, 22 September 2017

Heal Zimbabwe Trust's campaign of piety confounded by reality. Patrick Guramatunhu

A Gutu ward 6, Councillor Michael Bhema has been “exposed” for threatening community members yesterday that he will block opposition supporters from registering.
The incident reported by the Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) reportedly happened at Vuzhe BC where Bhema is quoted for saying that “Zanupf will monitor the BVR process.”
Well there is a surprise, because HZT has been one of the NGOs that has invested a lot of time, energy and treasure in assuring the nation its human right and peace initiatives would heal Zimbabwe’s political wounds and deliver free, fair and credible elections the nation has been dying for. The Trust has toured across the length and breadth of the country holding football games and at the end of each game participants held hands and pledged peaceful elections.

“The country is heading for another round of national elections in 2018, HZT appeals to political parties and all interested stakeholders to uphold peace, before, during and after the election period,” said HZT in one of its recent report.  

“The organization further calls for a peaceful voter registration, campaign and voting process that allows people to freely exercise their democratic right of choosing leaders of their choice without being harassed or coerced. HZT is currently rolling out a National Peace campaign: 13 Million Voices For Peace which seeks to appeal to every Zimbabwean to pledge to uphold peace as …Peace begins with me, Peace begins with you and Peace begins with all of us…”

Heal Zimbabwe Trust own the people of Zimbabwe an explanation of what has gone wrong with its campaign in Gutu and, more significantly, assure the nation that will not happen anywhere else in Zimbabwe. People want to know that the nation will have free, fair and credible 2018 elections.

The truth is Zimbabwe’s culture of vote rigging and political violence, as so graphically brought home in the 2008 elections cannot be wished away by a simple act playing a game of football and then after the game holding hands. The problem is a lot more complex and deep rooted than that and thus demands an equally complex and deep rooted solution.

The solution to Zimbabwe’s failed political system is for us to implement all the democratic reforms designed to dismantle the de facto one-party, Zanu PF, dictatorship. We had our best chance to get this done during the 2008 to 2013 GNU when all Tsvangirai and his MDC friends had to do was implement the democratic reforms agreed in the Global Political Agreement (GPA). Sadly, MDC failed to get even one reform implemented.

The rigged 2013 elections marked the end of the GPA and the end of SADC leaders’ supervisory role in Zimbabwe’s political crisis. This is why, SADC leaders themselves wanted the July 2013 elections postponed and hence advised Tsvangirai and company not to take part in the elections.

If we are serious about ending Zimbabwe’s de facto one party dictatorship and its culture of vote rigging and political violence, which the regime needs to stay in power, then we must grasp the thorny nettle and demand the implementation of the democratic reforms. Organizations like HZT have no business raising the nation’s hopes of ending the dictatorship with their ill-advised pious but empty promises. Peace, free and fair elections, economic recovery, etc. will come from implementing the democratic reforms designed to end the Zanu PF dictatorship and not from burying our heads in the sand and hold hands in piety!

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Mugabe set to rig 2018, orthodox thinkers say contest no matter what - are they right? W Mukori

Zimbabwe is in an unusual situation in that we are stuck with a corrupt, vote rigging and tyrannical dictatorship and the opposition we entrusted the task of implementing the democratic changes to end the dictatorship has, itself, proven to be corrupt and incompetent. Instead of championing our fight for democratic change, Tsvangirai and his MDC friends are the albatross around our neck, holding us down. We need to think outside the box, think the unthinkable!

“Thinking outside the box,” according to Wikipedia, “(also thinking out of the box or thinking beyond the box and, especially in Australia, thinking outside the square) is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel or creative thinking.

“Think creatively, unimpeded by orthodox or conventional constraints, and expansively.

Orthodox thinking says we must contest next year’s elections no matter how flawed and illegal the process has become. The logical question the orthodox thinkers have failed to ask and answered is; can the electoral process be so flawed and illegal it is impossible to win? The honest answer is, of course, there is no limit to how flawed and illegal one can corrupt a process. The question here is where to draw the line beyond which it is futile to contest the election.

In the March 2008 Tsvangirai polled 73% of the votes, by Mugabe’s own admission. Before the results were announced ZEC was ordered to recount the votes and after six weeks of recounting 5 million votes, the 73% was whittled down to 47% - enough to stop an outright victory and force a run-off. During the run-off Mugabe turned on violence, “he declared war on the people”, as Tsvangirai readily admitted when he announced his withdrawal from the run-off race. The violence was so intense and effective, Mugabe overturned his 27% defeat in March to an 84% landslide victory in June.

What Robert Mugabe demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt in the 2008 elections is that the Zanu PF’s vote rigging juggernaut could not be beaten no matter what. It had total control of the whole electoral process from ZEC officials produced the voters’ roll, managed the election, produced the ballots and counted the vote, to the security services who turn a blind eye to Zanu PF motivated political violence and even place an active role in beating and murder. Zanu PF was like someone with not just a loaded dice but one with six on all six sides; it is insane to bet on him failing to throw a six!

The orthodox argument that we must contest election no matter what becomes nonsensical when countered with the Mugabe mentality, to win the elections no matter what. Indeed, only a fool ever adopt a position so single track minded and inflexible he will risk all and lose all just to prove a point. The grave yard is full of people who had the right of way and the only point they proved was the futility of being dead right!

Boycotting an election process that is so flawed and illegal there is really no point in take part is where we are in Zimbabwe, given Zanu PF’s vote rigging capability as shown in 2008. SADC leaders realised this immediately hence the reason they advised MDC politicians not to contest the 2013 elections and have the elections postponed.

“Of course, they (election) can be postponed,” Dr Ibbo Mandaza explained to Violet Gonda. “In 2013 the Maputo Summit, in June 2013, before the elections, the Maputo Summit was all about having the elections postponed – the SADC summit.

“I went there. I was there at the Summit and Mugabe pretended to agree to a postponement of the elections. If you recall, the postponement was based on the need to reform at least electoral laws.

“And after that Summit, Morgan Tsvangirai, Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube, all of them were called to a separate meeting by the Heads of State of SADC in the absence of Mugabe, that same evening. And they were told; I was sitting there outside the room with Mac Maharaj; they were told ‘if you go into elections next month, you are going to lose; the elections are done’.” 

Some people have argued that MDC leaders did not boycott the July 2013 because they wanted to give the people a chance to vote. This is nonsense, the electorate’s vote count for nothing if elections are rigged; that is exactly what rigged elections do, deny the voter a meaningful vote.

Even if MDC had boycotted the elections, other opposition parties like Lovemore Madhuku’s NCA would have contested rendering the boycott ineffective. True but then no one is na├»ve not to know that the promise of a gravy train seat, which Zanu PF is dangling to entice the opposition to take part, will prove irresistible to many opportunist opposition politicians. Indeed, Zanu PF is dangling the bait, confident there will be many takes including MDC politicians themselves. The boycott, if it was going to have any meaning and impact, has to be a principled position.

What would boycotting the elections accomplish? The primary purpose of the 2008 Global Political Agreement which gave rise to the GNU was to implement a raft of democratic reforms designed to stop Zanu PF rigging the elections as happened in the 2008 elections. The primary purpose of boycott the elections is to reaffirm the reality on the ground that not even one of the reforms had been implemented and, with not reform, it will be futile to hold elections.

Indeed, it was futile holding the July 2013 elections with no reforms as we can now testify. Allowing next year’s elections to go ahead, again with no reforms will accomplish nothing too.

SADC leaders know the economic hardships ordinary Zimbabweans are facing today. They also know that another rigged election next year will only make the current economic meltdown even worse, causing serious human misery and political instability in Zimbabwe and the region. SADC leaders would like to see free and fair elections in Zimbabwe and not another rigged election, of that we can be certain.

SADC are set to reject next year’s sham elections but their hand will be strengthened by if a number of principled opposition politicians and ordinary citizens boycotted the elections precisely because the whole process is a sham!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

"BVR is shambolic," complain MDC - can't beat Win In Rigged Election (WIRE) strategies P Guramatunhu

The tragedy of a having a totally dysfunctional political system is that you are totally helpless. For the last 37 years we have been stuck with this incompetent, corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF dictatorship. Try as we have done to remove the regime from power, we have failed because, although hopelessly incompetent at managing the nation’s affairs, the regime has mastered the art of rigging elections. 

As if being stuck with Zanu PF was not bad enough, we are now also stuck with an opposition that is corrupt and incompetent that have developed a knack for dragging the nation from one blunder into the next. The people of Zimbabwe risked life and limb to elect Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends on the promise they will implement the democratic changes we needed to stop Zanu PF rigging the vote and thus enable us to finally remove Zanu PF from office. MDC has not only failed to bring about even one democratic change but worse still the party has entrenched itself getting rid of it is now as problematic as getting rid of Zanu PF itself. 

President Mugabe bribed Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends with the good-life of the gravy train during the GNU; ministerial limos, very generous salaries and allowances, a farm formerly owned by a white man for Welshman Ncube, a $4 million mansion for Tsvangirai, etc. In return the MDC leaders kick the democratic reforms into the tall grass for the five-year life of the GNU. 

Since the rigged July 2013 elections, MDC leaders have made some noise on reforms and even vowed “No reform, no elections!” But these were all half-hearted demands, as soon as the election cycle came around MDC leaders have tripping over one another for the chance to contest the flawed elections for the sake of the few gravy train seats Zanu PF offers to the opposition to entice them to contest the elections. 

What is existing now is a very cosy symbiotic relation between Zanu PF and MDC; the former continues to rig elections to secure its goal of making Zimbabwe a de facto one-party. Zanu PF, dictatorship. MDC provides Zanu PF the political smoke screen to hide the vote rigging by participating in the elections no matter how flawed giving the process some credibility. Zanu PF rewards MDC leaders, with a few gravy train seats as a bribe. The relationship only works as long as MDC leaders can keep up the outward appearances of being politically independent and not President Mugabe’s poodles; an increasingly difficult task to do.

Zanu PF’s refusal to implement even one token reform was made it very difficult for MDC to justify why it is contesting the flawed elections, especially since the party’s “No reform, no elections!” party resolution.  Two weeks ago, the party put on a brave face and promised to win elections even if Zanu PF was certain to rig the vote. The party said it had “Win In Rigged Election (WIRE) strategies. But already it is clear these WIRE strategies are not working as the party panics over ZEC’s to register voters properly. 

“The biometric voter registration (BVR) system was rolled out throughout Zimbabwe’s 63 district centres a few days ago but so far, the process has been painstakingly slow and thoroughly inefficient,” complain Obert Gutu is a recent statement.

“For instance, at Remembrance Drive district offices in Mbare, Harare, hundreds of aspiring voters had turned up as early as 6am on Wednesday morning, September 20, 2017. However, by mid-day, less than 50 people had been able to register as voters.”

The teething problems are not only in Harare other urban centres have reported of similar problems. What is worrying for the opposition is that this is a trend that has been noted in the past designed to make it as hard as possible for opposition supporters to register. It is happening again.

Why Gutu is panicking is simple, contrary to the opposition’s claim of having WIRE strategies to deal with Zanu PF’s many vote rigging tactics, the opposition have no clue how to deal with any vote rigging dirty tricks, other than beg. 

“The MDC calls upon ZEC to urgently and immediately up their game if the BVR system is to be a success. Only one BVR machine is being used at each and every registration centre and of course, this has caused unnecessary delays in the voter registration exercise. ZEC has a constitutional obligation to undertake a credible, efficient and transparent voter registration exercise but so far, the situation on the ground leaves a lot to be desired. We demand more seriousness and focus on the part of ZEC,” pleaded Gutu.

The reformed ZEC would have the freedom, independence and political will to deliver free and fair elections. The real ZEC, the unreformed ZEC, is nothing more than a department of Zanu PF with primary task is to ensure Zanu PF wins the elections. One way ZEC is helping Zanu PF rig the elections is by making sure as few as possible opposition supporters register to vote. The opposition parties have redoubled their effort to get their supporters to register to vote and ZEC has responded by raising the bar, to make it even harder to register. 

After queuing for days just to register, many of these voters will find that their details are not in the polling station register they expected and thus will still be denied the vote. 

There is really no logic in contesting elections knowing the process is being rigged, especially when this has happened every time for the last 37 years! It is madness to keep contesting flawed elections hoping to get a different result, that Zanu PF rigs the vote but lose the elections. Still, with both Zanu PF and MDC teaming up to ensure next year’s flawed and illegal elections go ahead, it is clear the ordinary Zimbabwean is helpless to do anything to stop the madness. 

With each rigged election, Zimbabwe has sunk deeper and deeper into this political and economic hell-hole Zanu PF landed us in. Today, with unemployment sitting at 90% plus and 72.3% of our people living on US$1.00 or less a day, etc.; Zimbabwe cannot afford yet another rigged election and sink even deeper into this hell. The ordinary thing ordinary Zimbabweans can do now is stand firm in their demand for the implementation of democratic reforms designed to end the vote rigging. And refuse to have anything to do with the sham elections designed to continue to deny them their fundamental right to free, fair and credible elections!  

“ZEC should openly admit that so far, the BVR system, particularly in urban areas, has been nothing short of shambolic. Be that as it may, the MDC would like to call upon Zimbabweans to be patient and to turn out in their millions to register to vote. The Zanu PF regime sustains itself on voter apathy and voter intimidation,” concluded Obert Gutu.

No Mr Gutu, “The Zanu PF regime sustains itself on opposition participating in flawed elections giving the process political credibility!” to paraphrase you. MDC leaders will contest next year’s elections regardless how flawed and illegal the process gets. Go ahead; spare us the empty promises, lies and excuses, we know what you are up to!