Commentaries and Analyses Index

The Zengeza By Election Vis A Vis The Zimbabwe Question

HARARE, Apr. 1 - On the 27th and 28th of March 2004, there was another parliamentary by election in the Zengeza constituency of Harare political province. The by election came as a result of the resignation of Tafadzwa Musekiwa of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for alleged fear for the loss his life after receiving life threats from the operatives of government sponsored terror.

Of importance to the people of Zimbabwe is the broader environment under which electoral processes are managed in Zimbabwe. Specifically, the contestations of the legitimacy of electoral outcomes as a result of a myriad of dubious issues that include, inter alia, the state of the voters roll and its availability to public scrutiny, the role of paramilitary state institutions such as the Border Gezi youths in the election process and the role of the security forces (the Police and the Army).

It is important at this moment to scan the Electoral Supervisory Commission in the context of its composition and independence. We will analyse the role of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the process of the by election. The partiality and the operations of the media, especially state electronic and print media in their reports of the campaigns of all the candidates registered to contest in the by election.

Using trend analysis of previous elections held in Zimbabwe and comparative analysis with the Southern African sub-continent, this paper seeks to make an opinion on the extent of its fulfilment to one of the prime demands of the liberation struggle,
“Majority rule as a result of one person one vote, in a free and fair electoral process ”

It is a fact that the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) is wholly at the mercy of the government. It is the government that decides what to be done, how and when. The commission is a fictitious claim of democracy. The ESC is appointed by the president and reports to that very president. This is so unfortunate in that, the very people who led the liberation struggle are corrupting the very tenets that they claimed Ian Smith was not respecting. The silence of the former front line states in this debacle must not boggle the mind, even the betrayal of the socio-economically powerful Azania (South Africa). The reasons for the current African focus on Zimbabwe are numerous but do not form the subject of this analysis, despite its relevance and thin veil with the issues under spotlight.

Because there is no line between the government and the ZANU PF ruling party, it becomes difficult to administer justice, democracy, and fairness. The assault on the independence of the judiciary, the media and even sport must ring in the minds of progressive forces within and without Zimbabwe. This marriage of inconvenience has resulted in the current, and deliberate use of party structures to run elections.
Who appoints constituency registrars? Who register election observers? What criterion is used to register election monitors and observers? Who do war veterans and green bombers report to? Why in many cases do the police and the army bay for the blood of the victims? Yes victims! Victims of media exclusion, victims of propaganda, victims of rigging, victims of abductions and victims of truth.

It is a fact that the state media is closed to all opposition citizens of Zimbabwe. The state media (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation radio and television, the Herald, the Chronicle and the Sunday Mail, the Manica Post among others) only reports loudly and with emphasis of visionary divisions, dissertations, infighting, failures and violence of the opposition. The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) reported the facts of how the Media covered the Parliamentary elections of June 2000, the presidential elections of March 2002 and published several observations with clear recommendations. In Media under Siege, the MMPZ note , for example, that from December 01 to March 08th 2002, ZANU PF was given 94% of ZBC TV airtime, the MDC got a paltry 4% and other parties shared a minute 2%. It must also be emphasised that the 4% and the 2% coverage that the MDC and other parties got was not espousing their policy positions, but to attack, denigrate and discredit them. This is the same context that the Zengeza by election is took place under. From the television we learn the opposition candidates as uncouth, socially dirty, neo-colonial, political virgins whilst the representative of the ruling party as the messiah, befitting the status of the second jesus who heals the sick of Chitungwiza for free and reduces household water bills. We must be joking as a people or we are not serious with the future of Zimbabwe, both in terms of its internal locations and its return to the status of being a jewel of the SADC region.

The second area that must be interrogated is the very existence of the unindependent ESC. It is clear that them who pays the piper calls the tune. The ESC is appointed by the President both of ZANU PF and the government of Zimbabwe (by default though). The facts here speak for themselves. Further complicating the whole issue of elections in Zimbabwe is the existence and accountability of the National Election Directorate and the Delimitation Commission. Recommendations of the SADC parliamentary Forum of 2001 and the Commonwealth concurred in the need for the government of Zimbabwe to appoint an Independent Electoral Supervisory Commission that would ensure a level playing field. Secondly, they called for the rationalisation of these numerous elections bodies whose duties and jurisdictions often confuses and in fact wastes taxpayer’s money.

In comparing the electoral process of Zimbabwe with those of other SADC countries, we must note that these are the very serious areas that led the Front Line States (Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, Angola, Tanzania and Namibia) to donate their resources and land as catalysts in the liberation of Zimbabwe and finally Azania. Because SADC is not the end-world of Zimbabwe, this comparative analysis will also feature observations from other observer missions to the Zimbabwe elections.

Zimbabwean elections have been conducted in appalling manners both in terms of SADC and International norms. The Zengeza by election included. This is not because the government does not know what ought to be done, nor that the government has no capacity to initiate such. It is also not because the people have not spoken or that the people do not know what they fought for during the liberation struggle. It must be noted as a case of defiance, stubbornness, dictatorship, a native imperialism. It is a cause for another struggle of liberating the people from the native oppressors.

The SADC parliamentary forum commenting on the conduct of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the March 2002 elections, acknowledged that, “in any situation of conflict, the police were expected to be impartial. In spite of the arrests made, these are significant claims that the police have been partisan in their handling of the political situation when called upon to intervene” This is the truth and no analysis is necessary here. The Commonwealth Observer Group 2002 Presidential election noted that,”…(ZANU PF) the party and its supporters regarded the police as part of its machinery of violence and intimidation against the opposition. Such a situation seriously calls into question the application of the rule of law in Zimbabwe” The South African Parliamentary Observer Mission also reported in 2002, after their meeting with Mr Tobaiwa Mudede, the Registrar General, that,”…the registrar general was not able to indicate the number of total number of registered voters. This caused a great deal of confusion amongst observers about the preparedness for the elections”. The International Ecumenical Peace Observer Mission from the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the All African Conference of Churches (AACC) concurred with the other earlier noted observer missions. They raised serious concerns about the denial of the sovereign right of the people, especially the endurance of pregnant women who queued in Harare and subsequently denied their birthright. It must be mentioned that there were other observer missions that, despite witnessing violations against human rights, chose to emasculate principle and insult the people of Zimbabwe by concluding that the elections in Zimbabwe, by Zimbabwe’s standards, were legitimate. The South African observer mission is one that concluded that the elections of 2002 were legitimate. They had their arguments, among them that the opposition had participated and that there was a huge voter turn out in this election, notwithstanding what they described as “the quality of the electoral process and the restrictive environment.” The reasons for this fiction and anti-truth declaration are numerous. However, they are not the main subject of focus in this discussion.
The Zimbabwe question has continued to frighten politicians since the time of Ian Smith up to the present day. Recently, it was reported that Prisoners are going to vote in South Africas presidential elections in April 2004. Where does that place Zimbabwe and her standards? There are more than two million Zimbabweans spread in the Southern African Sub-continent, more than a million in Europe and several spread in the Middle and Far East, the Americas and Australia. They remain Zimbabweans despite being economic refugees. The striking difference in electoral conduct with say, South Africa is; Prisoners shall vote in South Africa whilst it is very dangerous for the opposition people to campaign and vote in Zimbabwe. It therefore means prisoners of South Africa have more civil liberties than those people in the opposition and those forced out of the country in Zimbabwe. Is this the Zimbabwe standard that the South African Observer mission was referring to? What difference does this have to the Rhodesian insults of kaffir, second-class citizens if south Africa finds it normal for Zimbabwe to be have as such. Many perspectives emerge, but we have interest in two only.

First, South Africa (the few elite in government-not the poor masses) adores the person of Mugabe and fear so much to be labelled neo-colonial, for its political leverage at home. Whilst it supports and declares violence and rigging in Zimbabwe as normal; South Africa condemns these in its own backyard. The Landless Movement of South Africa is reported to have got very strong warnings from President Thabo Mbeki when it threatened to use the “Normal” Zimbabwe mafia style of resource misallocation. It confirms the assetion that, whilst South Africa sees the evil in Zimbabwe, it does not have the political muscle to condemn such. If the labour movement get into power in Zimbabwe, it also means doom for the current ANC as the South African Communist party in alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions might create a new regime of leaders that will quickly dispose Mbeki and his crew. So, Mbeki knows the truth but it does not benefit him to help the Zimbabwean people.

The second perspective is from the economic school of thought. South African Industry has always survived on native cheap labour from Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. The current educated and cheap two million Zimbabweans in South Africa are boosting the Rand so much. The same arguments for the Witwatersrand Native Labour Act (WENELA) motivated for Mbekis continued silence on the Zimbabwean crisis. Whilst others argue about the social effects of the influx of foreigners or Makwerekwere in South Africa, Mbeki will not listen to those arguments. By the way, it is the same Mbeki who declared that there is no AIDS, claiming that people of Africa die of hunger and not the virus.

The arguments about the placement and location of the Zimbabwean question in the region have raised hot debates. Some argue that, the Zimbabwe question must be addressed at home through organised confrontation and ignore the Mbekis and Commonwealths of this world. Yet others have advocated for more foreign lobbying and telling the real Zimbabwean story-a crisis of governance.

Specifically, many people, including myself, in the regional focus target Mbeki because he has declared positions on Zimbabwe. The other front line states save for Namibia, have reserved their comments and in some cases noted abuses of human rights. Secondly Mbeki promised the world, including Zimbabweans that by June 2004, there would be reforms in Zimbabwe. Being clear that Mbeki is not the president of Zimbabwe, neither does he tell Mugabe what to do, diplomatically he has the muscle to persuade Harare to be normal, which again is difficult because he views Zimbabwe’s violence as normal. It means either there is a crisis of definition of what is normal in the eyes of Mbeki or for his convenience; he deliberately closes his eyes and ears to the evils taking place North of South Africa. That is civic education business and we have no doubt that our fellow sisters and brothers in South Africa will assist. It also has to be highlighted, to those that argue for a totally internal policy that focuses on the local means of resistance; that every conflict must be resolved on two fronts. One is the battlefront where there are no rules and morals and secondly the diplomatic front. Commander of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) forces Comrade Josiah Magama Tongogara summed it up in London, 1979 during the Lancaster House Conference when he said, “to us London is a second front. What is meant by the second front is that we have a home front, which is the front for physical confrontation, and we have the London front, which we term the peaceful front…. where you go and talk ”. I, without reserve agree with Comrade Tongogara.

It is from this thinking that we have to totally look at the Zimbabwean question, the methods of its resolution, allies of the truth and its bloodsuckers. Though it is not the subject under scrutiny, for the purposes of those not in the know, we will briefly describe the Zimbabwe question. Whilst to further locate it in the current discourse of dialogue between the MDC and ZANU PF spearheaded by the local church and or presidents Mbeki , Muluzi and Obasanjo might be necessary, it is not sufficient to see the light that the people of Zimbabwe are praying for.

The Zimbabwe Question:
Zimbabwe’s case is a clear case of class struggle that was never addressed by the attaining of independence in 1980. There was an unsustainable skewed distribution of wealth among the new nationals of Zimbabwe. Like much of post liberation Africa, this was a challenge to the new government. After the expiry of the constitutional prohibition not to acquire private property in 1987, the government ministers embarked on a large scale-looting spree. The Willogate corruption scandal of 1989 triggered widespread protests from the students, workers and artists. The government here kept quite to this evil; and these seeds of corruption did geminated and grew over the years. What we see today are the fruits of this
Misgovernance. Through corruption, the black empowerment crusades and the recent land reform process all attempted, though they failed, to address the Zimbabwe question of creating an equal society irrespective of race, gender, age or political opinion.

Corruption is now severely embedded in the crust of business such that the current scratches by Dr Gono are just a tip of the iceberg. Secondly, the land reform programme, though noble, missed the target to redistribute wealth. It was hijacked by a powerful few who grabbed prime land and left the majority of peasants and those of other political persuasions out. In their language and reports, they argue that government policies are for everyone, but reality is what shapes tomorrow. The land reform addressed the aspect of colour, removing (often illegally) the few white farmers and replacing them with a few black farmers. The Lorenz curve that displays the distribution of resources in Zimbabwe still shows a skewed wealth ownership pattern. The governments land reform review report (the Utete) also note the existence of this, which ultimately culminated in the creation of a department in the Presidents office that pleads with those that abused their positions to overtake peasants in their right to land to return the land.

To safeguard the loot that has accumulated since 1989, it means there must never be an opposition political party or any person within ZANU PF, perceived as not capable of guarantying security to property and the misdeeds of those that are in power, who gets into power. To safeguard power means by any means necessary. The means are numerous, and include stage-managed treasons, emasculation of the media, and strong sentiments of anti-imperialism to get south-centred sympathy, rigging of elections etcetera. This is where the Zimbabwe question is located in history and in the current discourse. We do not mention it because it will take away the tears and pain in the people of Zimbabwe, but because the truth remains the truth. More so, that should we fail to liberate ourselves, the following generations will definitely not.

On the other front, people of Africa must be wondering why there are perpetual conflicts on the beloved motherland. Is it imperialism, neo-colonialism or the second scramble for Africa? Writing from the privileged position of being an African in distressed Zimbabwe, I am seriously persuaded to conclude that Africa needs to observe the sanctity of human rights. Values of truth and honesty are rare among African politicians, despite being in abundance in the tenets of African tradition. Whilst neo-colonial pressures could be contributing, clarity of the vision of a continent that they want is of paramount importance for the African civil society. Removing dictators and addressing the wealth gaps are critical too. Therefore, the question of Zimbabwe has to initiate action through the African blue print of New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). The fallacy of NEPAD comes to the fore through the failure and hesitancy by, even NEPADS proponents to institute peer review mechanisms. This compounds the crisis.

In conclusion, we note that the crisis in Zimbabwe is multi faceted. The democratic roots of Zimbabwe of free and fair elections and branches of health, education, housing and the economy are withering. The few powerful continue to impose their will on the people through state force, forced radio and television programmes, massive propaganda and unfortunately, Africa keeps quiet to this evil. It must not shock us because it is the same Africa that kept quite when about 800 000 people were skinned in an ethnical clash in Rwanda. It is important to continue engaging several means of resistance and formulating necessary strategies of self-liberation. Hope is a necessity, for whatever the case may be, light will conquer darkness. So, even as the Zengeza election came and went, and the 2005 election shall come and go, still-we must, as a people with a common vision, sojourn and continue our march to freedom. Long live Zimbabwe, we shall never forget you!

Itai Zimunya
with the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition

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The Zengeza By Election Vis A Vis The Zimbabwe Question

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