2 August 2013

Zimbabwe: Rigged... But Give Devil His Due

column

THAT this week's general elections results were discreetly rigged through a chaotic and flawed electoral process, before you even factor in the decisive shenanigans of the shadowy Israeli security company, Nikuv International Projects, which deals with voters' registration and elections results, is as clear as an azure sky of deepest summer.

The whole election process, from preparations to voting day, was a big farce. It was a charade in which President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF were determined to win by fair means or foul.

There were a series of problems, including the controversial fixing of the polling day, chaotic voters' registration process, a messy voters' roll, the turning away of registered voters and thus massive disenfranchisement.

There were also illegalities like registering people after official closure of the exercise and criminal voting through the back door.

The situation was worsened by the Registrar-General's Office and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)'s shoddy preparations and incompetence as shown by the special voting process fiasco.

The credibility of the elections was further marred by administrative and legal violations which characterised the entire process throughout. The date was effectively set by partisan Constitutional Court judges, while Mugabe used unconstitutional and illegal means to proclaim the date and amend the Electoral Act to foist the polls on the people.

The playing field was also terribly skewed. Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, Zec officials, state security forces, including the army, police and intelligence services, as well as the state media were all on Mugabe's side.

Mugabe and Zanu PF received saturation coverage from the fiercely partisan state television, ZBC, and the government-controlled Zimpapers.

The setting for the elections was also problematic. Zimbabweans were stampeded to the polls despite that most of the reforms agreed on under the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and elections roadmap designed to create conditions for free and fair elections were not implemented, especially those relating to the Zec, security sector and the public media.

A number of Sadc resolutions on Zimbabwe regarding the GPA and the roadmap were ignored.

In September 2008 the three main political parties in Zimbabwe, Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC, entered an inclusive government following a blood-soaked presidential election runoff.

After nearly five years under an unstable and intensely contested inclusive arrangement, Zimbabweans were unilaterally stampeded into elections under hostile conditions.

The combination of a muddled voter registration process and an untidy voters' roll, as well as chaos surrounding the recently held special vote for the security forces provided a clear indication of Zec's ineptitude, hence disenfranchisement on a massive scale.

So it was all fixed, hence it can't be credible and legitimate. Free perhaps but not fair. We all saw it coming, although some were in denial. Morgan Tsvangirai and his party slept on the job and were thus led by the nose to the slaughterhouse.

Sadc and the African Union, as well as other observers from the continent have already endorsed the polls. Given the growing convergence between Sadc, the EU and to some extent the United States, Mugabe and Zanu PF's engineered victory will be accepted.

While the results were clearly rigged, we must also accept Mugabe is a more shrewd and dynamic politician than any other in Zimbabwe.

To give the devil his due, "he is a brilliant tactician and has long thrived on his ability to abruptly change the rules of the game, radicalise the political dynamic and force everyone else to react to his agenda" as former US ambassador Christopher Dell put it.

Yet Mugabe's victory is a tragedy for Zimbabwe. But as they say, most of the times people get a leader and a government they deserve.

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