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Zimbabwe 2013 elections: Necessities and options

By Discent Bajila

In 2006, Professor Jonathan Nathaniel Moyo wrote, “That Mugabe must go is thus no longer a dismissible opposition slogan but a strategic necessity that desperately needs urgent legal and constitutional action by Mugabe himself.” Five years down the line, political events might have connived with each other and thrown the learned Mlevu villager back into the hands of Robert Mugabe and made him part of the leadership of what he once described as a “shelf political party that exists only in name”. But that Mugabe must go remains an even more urgent matter and demanding action, not only from Mugabe himself but the millions of Zimbabweans including Moyo.

Any self-respecting 88-year-old would have found reason to exit the political scene especially after spending more than three decades presiding over moments of madness, natural resource plunder and, by extension, invitation of sanctions that have harmed the nation’s peasant population. However, the biggest problem has become the existence of a rude club that has become gatekeepers to both the enjoyment of natural resources and Mugabe’s route out of power. Not only has this club been on a crusade of fooling the masses into believing that they own mining shares but they have also manipulated Mugabe into believing that he can make belated contributions to the constitution-making process and successfully veto such non-negotiable issues as devolution of power. Furthermore they have made self-positioning arguments framed under an illusion that those who want Mugabe to go are envious of their salute and nothing else.

Like Henry Malan who worked hard to sustain apartheid in South Africa and Joseph Goebbels who strengthened Nazism in Germany, the Ignatius Chombos and George Charambas of this world might try to sustain Zanu-PF but clearly their end is nigh. These gatekeepers to Mugabe’s exit have not only caused Zanu-PF to be a moribund organisation that is opposed to any new ideas but have also deprived him of an opportunity to plan his future as former head of government, thereby making Zimbabwe a shame to the SADC region, Africa and the world at large. It is a matter of fact that we are the only country in the region without a former head of government since independence.

Not only has Mugabe, through his gatekeepers, denied his peers an opportunity to preside over a nation they selflessly fought for, he has also became a bad example to middle-aged leaders like Lovemore Madhuku, Arthur Mutambara, Lovemore Matombo and Morgan Tsvangirai who have made it impossible to transfer power in the organisations that they lead – or purport to lead in the case of Mutambara and Matombo.

Lucky enough, the debate on the exit of Robert Mugabe has remained live despite attempts to silence or stop it both inside Zanu-PF and the nation at large. Those inside Zanu-PF are involved in a succession tug of war whose faces are inarguably Joyce Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa. Outside Zanu-PF there is a legitimate regime change debate whose faces include Welshman Ncube, Morgan Tsvangirai, Simbarashe Makoni, Dumiso Dabengwa, Sikhumbuzo Dube and Egypt Dzinemunenzva among others.

The answers to the questions on Mugabe’s exit, outside the biologically obvious one, lie in the elections due in the spring of 2013. These elections will be, by many standards, historic.

Firstly, it will be the last elections to be contested by both Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, the two men who have became undisputable symbols of violent contestation and general polarisation. Tsvangirai is serving his second and last term as MDCT president and not even his wordsmith Nelson Chamisa could be in a position to justify his further occupation of either the party presidency or his candidacy for the state presidency.

As for Mugabe, both biological realities and the need for self-respect and preservation of one’s dignity, if any, predict that he can no longer be of any presidential value even to the notorious Chipangano.

Secondly, the 2013 elections will be historic in the sense that while all post-independence ones have been between Zanu-PF as the sole ruling party and all others coming from outside government, the upcoming polls will have three parties whose performance in government has undergone concurrent public scrutiny.

If it is true that the Zimbabwean electorate values such things as service delivery, honesty from general leadership and transparency in use of state resources, then surely the next election will be a rude awakening for many, especially those whose claim to fame is the people’s grievances and not necessarily a compassionate and clear programme of action.

The importance of service delivery, transparent use of state resources and honesty from general leadership as indices of candidate credibility is important as it will serve as a means of restoring the augustness of Parliament. It is only when credible candidates are elected that Parliament will seize to be a national bedroom where geriatrics sleep and yawn while the energetic lead debates on libido, administration of bathing and regulation of women’s hairstyles.
Unless and until parliamentarians are not chosen on their ability to castigate sanctions and homosexuals or, on another end, as a token of recognition for the number of times they have endured state brutality, the national transformation agenda shall always fail.

Thirdly and most important is the fact there is a huge group of new and young voters who are silently and peacefully organising in various forums. This group is determined to break its political virginity in a revolutionary fashion and be counted. It views the generation of Robert Mugabe as the proverbial chicken that fed on its eggs by not only abandoning the promises of liberation but by actually strengthening itself through the systems and laws of the colonial oppressor. The new generation of first- and second-time voters is less interested in political sloganeering.
It is this generation which is so determined to say, “My father might have been in a 5th Brigade; your mother might have been a dissident; let’s dance together.” Therefore those who have the tendency of using tribal whipping as a campaign tool and villagising some of the most credible candidates are up for a rude challenge.

An integral part of these first and second time voters is the huge population of the young and well-read who have been watching from the periphery. They have seen that, just like in general life, there are all sorts of politicians. Some are old and obsolete but still imagine that they can outrun and outplay the young and youthful. Some are like chameleons: they change colour to remain relevant but in the political process lose vision and remain without any ideology. Some are prepared to stand with the truth no matter how suppressed it might be, they are even prepared to sacrifice their own careers at the altar of truth. It is with such knowledge that the young will approach the polling booths in the spring of 2013.

In conclusion, it is fundamental for every Zimbabwean to find peace with the reality that the 2013 exit of Robert Mugabe is no longer subject to any debate; it is a sealed national agreement. The two most important things after he has gone which we must begin to openly and constructively debate are the caliber of his successor and the fate of his club of gatekeepers. Those in Zanu-PF may want to debate the liberation credentials of his successor; those in the MDCT might want to debate the tribe of the successor and the extent to which that successor would have suffered state assault; we in the MDC will debate the vision and capacity of that successor.

Discent Collins Bajila is the Youth Assembly secretary general and member of the National Media, Information and Publicity Committee in the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prof. Welshman Ncube. He writes in his personal capacity.

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