Zim fragile, highly divided….. Mnangagwa, Chamisa should unite Zimbabwe

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

They said one sure way to solve the ongoing electoral dispute, would be for the main protagonists in the crisis – President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zanu PF and his MDC Alliance rival Nelson Chamisa – to agree on how to extricate the country from the logjam.

The analysts were, however, divided on whether the dialogue should aim towards a government of national unity (GNU).

Zimbabweans voted in harmonised presidential, parliamentary and local government elections on Monday.

These were the first polls without former president Robert Mugabe and the late MDC founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai.

While Mugabe’s ouster in a soft coup last November was seen by many as the dawn of a new political epoch in a country that has been polarised for more than three decades, Mnangagwa has struggled to break with the past.

The country has continued to suffer from a history of disputed electoral outcomes blamed on the under-fire Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s alleged bias against the opposition.

Zec’s aversion to transparency has come came back to haunt the elections management body.

This was after Chamisa and his MDC Alliance party rejected the poll outcome which gave Mnangagwa a 50,8 percent of the total vote against his 44,3 percent as “fake”.

They claim to be in possession of evidence which could persuade Zec to overturn the vote in his favour.

Mnangagwa insists he won the vote fairly.

Political analyststhis week said given that both Mnangagwa and Chamisa were insisting on their ‘victories’, dialogue could be the best solution to avert a national crisis.

Maxwell Saungweme, a political analyst, said the dispute has put Zimbabwe on the edge, adding that the situation deserves dialogue “mediated by a respectable, impartial mediator who carries no bias baggage from dealing with either party to avoid Zimbabwe plunging into chaos”.

“The outcome of the dialogue will be a government of national unity where power is shared between Chamisa and Mnangagwa,” he suggested.

Political analyst Vivid Gwede said the nation was clearly divided if the results were to be taken at face value, amid genuine concerns about their authenticity.

“There is no consensus among Zimbabweans about how this country should move forward. The elections have not done anything to heal us as a nation, but they have left others even hurt further.

“At face value, the contested results show the rural people and the old people have supposedly preserved that status quo, while the urbanites, the youth and the middle class want change,” said Gwede.

Former civic society leader Macdonald Lewanika said Chamisa’s protestations should be heard, noting that the powers-that-be were trying by all means to disrupt his attempts at making his case, including through raiding the MDC offices, his advisors’ homes and confiscating equipment that could be used to store or make the case.

“Clearly an impasse now exists, and at the very least it should trigger dialogue and an intervention aimed at allowing the main protagonists to agree on a process to resolve the dispute,” Lewanika said.

He said a coalition government was not the next best solution for this, but an impartial hearing of grievances and presentation of evidence.

“If the election was rigged to such an extent that it cannot stand, it can be rerun. If Zec’s errors were to such an extent that Mnangagwa didn’t win outright, then Zec would need to correct its mistake and either call for a runoff or announce the real winner,” he said.

Lewanika said while regional leaders such as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa have since congratulated Mnangagwa as the victor in spite of the dispute, this could be diplomatic posturing.

“We cannot fault regional leaders for congratulating Mnangagwa. In terms of formal process, he is president-elect and formally the opposition is yet to lodge a case with the electoral court,” he said.

“At the end of the day, foreigners are led and informed by our formal processes rather than our informal news of disputes. Chamisa’s protest is on record publicly, it now needs to be on the court record as well. We must not throw around GNUs as a band aid to political problems which can be solved by respecting the will of the people (and) not negating it and saying lead together outside the confines of the law”.

Crisis Coalition spokesperson Tabani Moyo said Zanu PF and Zec could easily create an artificial hostility between families and friends living in the towns and those in urban centresif they recklessly pursue narrow politics of entitlement.

He opined that Zec behaved with a high sense of entitlement and disregard of its mandate.

“…how do you run an election while all but one political party has (the) voters’ roll?Why denying to go through the credibility test? These are the challenges that I see the administrative body being inundated with court challenges,” said Moyo.

“Worse off, the army deployment by the government on slight provocation has dented the country’s prospects towards the path to recovery”.

Media analyst Rashweat Mukundu said Zimbabwe was more fragile than we can ever imagine.

He said while Zanu PF claims victory, the death of innocent civilians at the hands of an army and the embarrassing attacks on journalists all show that the state wheels have come off.

“Zimbabwe is a laughing stock as politicians have invested all their energy in power and not leadership.It is becoming clear that events of November 2017 are a disease that needs curing and the July 30 election has just confirmed that the military and not Mnangagwa are in power and control,” said Mukundu.

“Transforming Zimbabwe is akin to religious repentance, it’s really turning and facing the other way. Unfortunately, Mnangagwa wants to maintain Mugabeism style of power while seeking to transform Zimbabwe, outside a corrupt and false transformation – the answer is that it can’t.”

Social analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said he would have preferred a completely new political slate because the old order has no depth for new solutions.

“But we can only work with what we have; blaming political parties for giving us second grade candidates. Our future now depends on calling the president and his team to account for their electoral promises. If Mnangagwa takes a wrong turn on his cabinet choice, we are f*****d.” Daily News.