By Gift Phiri
All the 22 opposition candidates contesting this presidential election must, for once, agree on one thing, that is to boycott the elections and create a legitimacy crisis for this competitive authoritarianism being fronted by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF.
It is quite clear that time is running out for Mnangagwa and Zec to run a fair vote.
On Friday, the High Court ordered Zec to release the provisional voters’ roll. Did Zec have to be ordered to do this?
Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba was at pains on Friday to defend herself after the voters’ roll debacle.
Today, the High Court in Harare is due to hear two cases brought by legal watchdog Veritas seeking an order compelling Zec to comply with its constitutional duty to administer a transparent general election and to promote transparency in all its operations.
Both cases raise constitutional issues affecting the Electoral Act and the Zec’s functions under the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
After staging the military-engineered ouster of Robert Mugabe which had the backing of millions of Zimbabweans, there has been somewhat a liberalising outcome, which has seen the rise of a new government that is considerably less authoritarian than its predecessor.
But this charade by ED to say the right things and do the opposite should not fool anyone.
Things are not looking good for ED’s attempts to secure legitimacy through free, fair, and credible elections.
Zec has been dragged to court to force it to discharge its legal duty to disclose all of its standard operating procedures, to avail the voters’ roll, to disclose the criteria for screening and selecting persons seconded to Zec, sealing and storage of ballot boxes, voters’ rolls, ballot papers, tallying of votes and any other electoral papers. It has so far failed to do this.
There are escalating fears that the incumbent and his ruling Zanu PF party are typically resorting to fraud to attempt to ensure electoral victory.
While the choice made by opposition elites to form strategic coalitions for the purpose of mounting a credible challenge to the ruling party or candidate in national elections is noble, they are clearly being used to legitimise ED and his ruling Zanu PF’s electoral fraud.
Where are the ballot papers being printed, why is Zec stuffed by securocrats?
After filing nomination papers last week, the opposition must proceed to announce a major boycott of the election until their demands are met.
They are being used to chlorinate or deodorise the coupsters. If they participate, they will lose dismally and when they complain, their remonstrations will just be dismissed as sour grapes.
And, there is a method to the madness.
There have been bogus opinion polls giving ED 70 percent to prime the electorate for such an outcome.
There are fears the ballot fraud will be at an “industrial scale” as already alluded to.
So boycotting elections is the only way to participate.
The regime is desperate for legitimacy after overthrowing the constitutional order.
The opposition must refuse to participate if it doesn’t have the voter register, does not know where the ballots are printed, where the BVR servers are, and Zec is not demilitarised.
They should just say “tongai tione”. Finish and klaar.
In competitive electoral authoritarian regimes like the one we have, elections are foreign policy tools used by the regime to reproduce itself, but it’s quite clear the electoral context, environment and administration have been deftly choreographed to deliver a predetermined outcome of regime retention and continuity. DailyNews