The recent threats by both the MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa and Tendai Biti, who leads the People’s Democratic Party, one of the fringe parties in an alliance with the MDC, of announcing the results of this month national elections ahead of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), are unhelpful.
Being top lawyers and politicians, it is the public’s expectation that the two gentlemen separate political gamesmanship and adherence to the rule of law.
For weeks the MDC Alliance and other opposition groups have felt that Zec is compromised and unwilling to create a conducive environment which allows the holding of free, fair and credible elections.
Based on evidence of what has happened so far — Zec’s seemingly reluctance to give MDC Alliance the voters’ roll, contradictions on the printing of the ballot paper and flaws in the postal vote — the opposition might have a strong case against the national elections management body.
However, flaws in the electoral process and opposition’s gripe with the Zec’s conduct, should not be used as a licence to promote or stir lawlessness as is what both Biti and Chamisa appear to be pushing through their threats.
It is really disconcerting that figures such as Biti who once faced charges of treason in 2008 after prematurely announcing the results of that year’s hotly disputed elections, would brazenly repeat this act. Biti made these threats in Mutare and Masvingo at the weekend.
What is worrisome is that Biti knows the consequences of such an unlawful act but would not see any harm in pursuing that path whose end he doesn’t know.
Considering some African elections, notably twice in Kenya, have had bloody endings as a result of both inflammatory and reckless statements by opposition leader Raila Odinga, it is jarring to think that a lawyer of repute and an aspiring president like Biti, would sink to levels of wanting to foment chaos.
As a player in these elections why would he want to violate the law and usurp the role of Zec by announcing the results when the law doesn’t arrogate such powers to anyone outside the national elections management body?
As for Chamisa, who has really emerged as a serious challenger to Zanu PF and President Emmerson Mnangagwa in these impending national elections, such conduct has the potential to erode respect and trust as a potential leader of Zimbabwe.
Biti and Chamisa need not cross the red line. DailyNews