Small parties roped in to legitimise Zanu PF ‘win’

By Blessings Mashaya

Zanu has gone into an overdrive to legitimise its contested poll victory by roping in fringe opposition parties to endorse the outcome of the just-ended elections.

MDC-T vice president Thokozani Khupe
Former MDC-T vice president Thokozani Khupe

President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa won the July 30 presidential election with 50,8 percent of the votes cast, against his nearest contender, Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance’s 44,3 percent.

In the National Assembly poll, Zanu PF achieved a two-thirds majority in the bicameral Parliament.

The MDC Alliance, led by Chamisa, has rejected the poll outcome, and was due to lodge a Constitutional Court petition within seven days after the declaration of the results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), in a desperate bid to overturn the outcome.

Fifty-five political parties took part in the presidential race, with a total of 22 candidates aspiring for the presidency.

Interestingly, fringe opposition parties are rubberstamping the poll result despite not only their heavy drubbing at the polls, but the glaring inequities that favoured Zanu PF.

The little-known New Patriotic Front led by Peter Munyanduri said all parties must accept the election results.

“In terms of victory, I think Zanu PF deserved it,” said Munyanduri.

“They had more campaign material than any other party in the election, including posters and fliers all over the country. They did manage to lure many voters as elections are a game of numbers.”

On Tuesday, breakaway MDC president Thokozani Khupe endorsed the poll outcome, while blaming “our erstwhile cousins” for violence.

“Yes, as a party, we raised issues with Zec. There are things that they did not do to our satisfaction and to the satisfaction of many people. Those things happen. However, we are saying for the sake of moving this country forward, it is important as political parties to come together, put our minds together for the sake of oneness,” said Khupe.

Analysts canvassed by the Daily News were alarmed by the flurry of endorsements from the minute parties notwithstanding the uneven electoral playing field highlighted by the bulk of the observer missions.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said most of the small parties were created by Zanu PF to dilute the MDC Alliance’s support base.

He said while some of them could be having real issues with the MDC Alliance around lack of shared values, political principles, ideology and internal democracy it was unthinkable for any genuine opposition party to endorse Mnangagwa or a rigged election.

“The truth is the election was rigged. Whether Chamisa won or not is another matter and is debatable. But based on issues that arose before the poll such as constituency gerrymandering, opaqueness in ballot paper printing and the issues around counting this poll is not credible,” said Saungweme.

Saungweme said even if Chamisa loses his case in the courts, he still has a big role to play in Zimbabwean politics.

“But the source of the issues with this poll is a defective Constitution done by a political-parties process instead of a people-driven process and has no adequate safeguards for running of free and fair elections.

“Having said that, genuine political parties interested in a prosperous Zimbabwe  should be advocating for a role for Chamisa in government given that he polled over two million (votes)  a number big enough to ignore. So whether the courts rule in his favour or not Chamisa must have a role in Zimbabwe’s governance,” said Saungweme.

Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said some of the small parties could be falling over each other to endorse the polls in order to curry favour with Mnangagwa.

“They have nothing to lose. They want to be considered in some portfolios in the government. They are trying to position themselves. It is also a ploy by the ruling party to legitimise their win and in the same process they will delegitimise their rivals by using hopeless political parties,” said Masunungure.

“That’s a normal game of politics to destroy your political rivals using unorthodox means.”

Piers Pigou, senior consultant at the International Crisis Group said Zanu PF was trying to have their win accepted by the international community.

“It bears the characteristics of an effort to manufacture legitimacy. In the circumstances, that interpretation should not surprise us. Those parties doing so should be carefully looked at. Who they are, where they have emerged from, on what  basis they endorse or reject etc,” said Pigou. Daily News.