Home » Columns » Huh? ratio nelson?

Huh? ratio nelson?

Publishing Date : 07 August, 2018

Stuart White
The World in Black-N-White

There is one main conversation in the bars, cafes and shebeens at the moment – anywhere, in fact, where the chattering classes convene to put the world to rights and that is, of course, the elections in Zimbabwe. 

All over the world people are tuning in to radio and television broadcasts, checking their smartphones and accessing online news for up-to-date reports, commentator’s views and on-the-ground reportage.  It’s fair to say that after the eventual toppling of Robert Mugabe in November last year, it was hoped that the overthrow heralded a new dawn in Zimbabwean politics and that the seeds of reparation and new growth might be able to be sown.

 And with the date set for a democratic election, as promised by coup master Emmerson  Mnangagwa it seemed the people would have their say with a clear choice between the ruling ZANU PF party under his ostensibly temporary leadership and opposition party,  Movement for Democratic Change party under Nelson Chamisa. 

Yet as of now, the situation in the country is volatile, hostile and disbelieving as early results appear to show a significant win for ZANU PF and Mnangagwa over the MDC and Chamisa, in spite of pre-election polls which appeared to show both parties more or less neck and neck.  Already there are accusations of vote rigging and election fraud and there have been ugly clashes on Harare’s streets between MDC supporters and the army with soldiers opening fire, three people dead and many more injured. 

 Home e Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu warned that the government “will not tolerate any of the actions that were witnessed today….“The opposition... have perhaps interpreted our understanding to be weak, and I think they are testing our resolve and I think they are making a big mistake.” Not exactly words of diplomacy, peace-keeping and reconciliation.  As the French say ‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose’ (the more it changes, the more it’s stays the same)

It’s hard to fathom where this one is going.  It’s reasonable to predict further clashes and more deaths  before the week is out.    Zimbabweans have grown suspicious of politicians, suspicious of elections and with good cause.  Under Mugabe the concept of a free and fair election was laughable, as was the idea that he would ever have tolerated a result which went against him and thus, no vote ever did.  Nonetheless hope springs eternal in the human heart and it was felt that this time it might be different, that this time international observers might actually be free to observe and that the process would be truly transparent and honest. 

And of course, who is to say that this is not the case?  It may be that the results so far do reflect the views of the majority of the people – it just doesn’t feel like that to the many voters who want real change and who were buoyed pre-lection by the promising polls.  The choice, of course, was far deeper than the superficial alternatives of one party and leader against another.  Mnangagwa,  although he effected the coup and coup de grace to Mugabe, was his long-time political ally and at 75 represents the old guard of Zimbabwean politics, with all the negative associations that implies; whilst lawyer Nelson Chamisa, at 40, speaks with a new voice for a new generation of voters and a new era in political thinking.

It is, of course, in sharp contrast to our own recent change of leadership which saw the orderly handover of the premiership from HE Lt. Gen Ian Khama Seretse Khama to incumbent HE Mokgweetsi Masisi in a democratic process in keeping with the prescribed electoral code.    Just the other side of a shared border yet the contrasts between the two countries and how such affairs are conducted couldn’t be starker.  Around the world Botswana rarely makes the headlines, save when a record-breaking large diamond is discovered beneath the Kalahari sands or a member of the British royal family makes one of their regular visits.  No news is good news, as they  say!

As far as Zimbabwe is concerned, we can only wait and watch.  The country is desperately in need of an era of stability in order to begin the long process of economic recovery.  Mugabe raided the national coffers with systematic and ruthless theft and the richer he grew the more his people starved.  He left it both broken and broke and it will take decades to recuperate and re-grow. 

Productivity has been almost non-existent for years, what with the lack of raw materials, scarcity of jobs and a nation of people facing an everyday struggle to find and afford the barest of necessities.  What is needed now is a government of national unity, not one of further division and distrust and reparation can only come about with the help of foreign aid. 

Zimbabwe’s rulers know that the widespread perception overseas that they have rigged an election would block the country’s reintegration into the international community and deny it the huge bailout package needed to avoid economic meltdown but with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres calling on the country’s  political leaders and people to exercise restraint and reject any form of violence and Colm O Cuanachain, Acting Secretary General of  Amnesty International urging authorities to launch “a prompt and effective” investigation into the deadly military crackdown, it’s not looking  promising from the outside in. “People must be guaranteed their right to protest,”   O Cuanachain said.  That would certainly be a sea change in politically-oppressed Zimbabwe!  Perhaps someone should explain that to the army?



Do you think the courts will help put the UDC, BMD impasse within reasonable time ahead of the 2019 General Election?