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Another GNU in the making . . . as civil society work on transitional authority

By Fungi Kwaramba

Amid indications that the first round of voting may not produce a clear winner, a section of the civil society in Zimbabwe has started putting together building blocks for a transitional authority — modelled along the lines of the 2009 to 2013 government of national unity (GNU) in which former president Robert Mugabe shared power with his nemesis, Morgan Tsvangirai — the late founder of the MDC.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa and President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa and President Emmerson Mnangagwa

The Daily News can exclusively reveal that there have been exploratory discussions involving leading opinion leaders in the civil society and liberals across the political divide to prepare the nation for a post-election period in the event that the July 30 poll produces a contested outcome.

This comes as the nation is already debating results from two controversial surveys by the Pan-African Forum Limited (PAFL) and Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA) that projected an outright victory for President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zanu PF.

PAFL — linked to a Zanu PF apologist, Nyekorach Matsanga — claimed a fortnight ago that Mnangagwa would win 70 percent of the vote if elections were held now, while Nelson Chamisa would only win 24 percent of the vote.

Last week, TIFA gave Mnangagwa 68,5 percent of the vote against Chamisa’s 19,5 percent.

A more credible survey by the Mass Public Opinion Institute and Afrobarometer has, however, predicted a closely contested presidential race between Mnangagwa and Chamisa, saying the Zanu PF leader, aged 75, could get 42 percent of the vote, while Chamisa, who turned 40 on February 2, could garner 31 percent.

This points to the possibility of a run-off on September 8 since there will not be an outright winner.

According to the Constitution, the winner must get 51,1 percent of the vote and above.

To avoid possible tensions post the July 30 ballot which could inflame a hugely polarised political atmosphere in Zimbabwe, discussions are underway to shepherd the country’s main political actors into a second GNU.

Under the facilitation of academic, Ibbo Mandaza, there were exploratory discussions last week to be continued, depending on the response from the main parties, especially Zanu PF and the MDC.

Mandaza confirmed the development last week.

“We have been facilitating the talks since 2015 and, in light of what we think would be a disputed election, we are focusing on a post-election transitional authority so as to bring about peace and reconciliation, and a return a to constitutionalism which includes the army going back to the barracks,” he said.

Mandaza said a national transitional authority was the only way forward for Zimbabwe given the disunity among its people and the economic meltdown that the country has been going through in the past two decades.

“We are aware that some parties are already talking about a GNU and we will talk to Zanu PF when the time comes. This is a platform where concerned parties are also talking to the region and the international community for re-engagement. We spoke to representatives of all (the) political parties but there were no principals,” said Mandaza, without specifying the parties that took part in the talks.

Oxford scholar Philan Zamchiya told the Daily News yesterday that even if Zimbabwe was to get a run-off on September 8, that would not mean another GNU.

“There is no such law. Only political considerations can drive Zimbabwe towards a second GNU,” he said.

“At the moment, I see no such prospects. The military oligarchy buoyed by renewed international support, plagued by internal contradictions and with its hierarchy not feeling so well has a winner take all mentality. Read beneath and beyond. Any post-election GNU talk or signal is insincere, mere carrot dangling and a strategy to reduce the necessary preelection noise from the opposition. So fight like there is no GNU! That’s it,” said Zamchiya.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the forthcoming elections will not be free and fair, adding that time for a free and fair poll had been lost.

“A poll is deemed free and fair after looking at the ‘freeness and fairness’ of the pre-poll period, polling days, and post-polling period,” said Saungweme.

“So far, the pre-polling period has been marred by hallmarks of elections manipulation if you look just at these factors among many: opaqueness around where ballot papers are printed and how many will be printed; lack of access by now to the biometric voter registration voters’ roll by the opposition; politicisation and militarisation of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission; existence of the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act; monopolisation of public media by the ruling party and instances of voter intimidation, including the deployment of soldiers.

Saungweme said there was no need for the military to be deployed in a country not under the threat of war.

“So to a critical mind, the factors noted above are more than enough to taint the pre-poll period as uneven and unfree and unfair. So we wait to see the shenanigans and behaviours of players during poll, during vote tabulation and announcement of results and the immediate aftermath of the announcement of the results for us to determine freeness and fairness of the whole election,” he said. DailyNews