20 October 2017

Zimbabwe: The More Things Change the More They Remain the Same

opinion

As Zimbabweans sleep-walk into yet another general election, there is no escaping the sense that perhaps this whole process is a costly charade and the US$274 million earmarked for the poll could be put to better use by being channelled towards the grossly underfunded social sectors of education and health.

When you talk to citizens, the level of disillusionment with the current political landscape is astonishing. Should anyone be surprised that there are very few people who are bothering to register as voters?

Of late, political pundits have warned that the problem of apathy could pose a serious headache.

All the objective facts point to the conclusion that we are headed for yet another controversial, chaotic and disputed election.

With each passing day and as shrill cries of despair echo across the political stage, opposition parties are beginning to sound like hopeless cry-babies. They blame the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, they blame Zanu PF, they blame donors, and they even blame plain bad luck. Heck, they blame everyone else except themselves.

When will opposition parties begin presenting their policy agenda? Where are the alternative ideas which will convince people that it is actually worthwhile to go out there, spend an hour in a queue and get registered as a voter?

In recent months, we have witnessed a shocking political spectacle: some opposition officials appear to have taken sides in Zanu PF's succession war. As a result, we now hear of the existence of pro-Lacoste and pro-G40 camps in the opposition. This is a circus and we should not be surprised why the electorate is becoming increasingly disillusioned with the futility of politics.

What the opposition pretenders are failing to understand is that although Zanu PF factions may be full value for entertainment at the moment, the vicious squabbling has nothing to do with the furtherance of freedom, democracy and development in the broader scheme of things. The factional battles are all about power retention, primitive accumulation, and sectarian intrigue. Simply put, Zanu PF factionalism is not arising from any useful ideological or policy contestation.

Even though Zimbabwe's 2013 elections were fraught with serious deficiencies, there is a general acceptance that Zanu PF won by quite a wide margin. But what is the purpose of a so-called landslide victory when the victors proceed to recklessly squander their mandate? From a governance perspective, Zanu PF has been a monumental failure since 2013. The economy is in tatters, the government is dead broke, public enterprises are dysfunctional, our young people have lost all hope, and leadership failure is holding the nation hostage.

As 2018 beckons, voters are wondering whether this particular election will be any different. So far, the signs are not encouraging. We can expect mass disenfranchisement on the back of a scandalously skewed electoral system. The opposition will cry foul but still participate in the flawed process, go on to lose the elections, file court petitions in vain and eventually embrace the reality of defeat. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

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