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Democracy defiled again in Zimbabwe

Opinion by Mutsa Murenje

Dear Comrades, I missed you greatly during the past few weeks of my silence and I know you missed me too. For my political involvement I besought the Lord innumerable times, that it might depart from me but each time I resist it the feeling grows and I can’t simply resist it.

Mutsa Murenje
Mutsa Murenje

I won’t when we aren’t yet free and when others want us to believe we are happy when the opposite is true. I might have taken time to respond to the outcome of the 31st July 2013 poll in Zimbabwe but my prolonged silence never meant I would remain silent.

The outcome troubled not only you but also hit me the hardest. You never expected it. I never expected it. We all never expected it hence the shock and the subsequent funereal atmosphere brought about by Robert Mugabe’s continued stay in power.

It is pellucid and incandescently clear though that the poll outcome lacks legitimacy locally and internationally. Millions of suffering and oppressed Zimbabweans have not accepted the outcome which we believe does not represent the credible will of the people of Zimbabwe.

We maintain that the poll was not free, fair and credible. Although the atmosphere prevailing during the election period could be described as generally peaceful (in comparison to previous violent and bloody polls), we however believe that violence is not the only aspect that discredits elections.

An election outcome emanating from uneven conditions can never be free, fair and credible.

Disturbances in the Arab world ever since the year 2010 have but left an indelible imprint on our minds. The inconclusive elections in Kenya (2007), Zimbabwe (2008) and the Ivory Coast (2010) brought to the citizens of the concerned countries untold suffering.

We are even worried about the ongoing turmoil in Egypt following the undemocratic ouster of President Mohamed Morsi by that country’s military on 3rd July. Lives continue to be lost and we definitely do not want our beloved Zimbabwe to go that route.

We are likely to go that route given the inconclusive election of 31st July. Mugabe et al may celebrate their stolen victory but obviously to the detriment of many of us who had hoped for a sane, responsible and more responsive administration in our country.

The liberation struggle never meant prosperity for a handful when the majority of us are wallowing in poverty. Rather, the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe was built on the hope for new opportunities. The liberation struggle was about freedom not dictatorship.

People made great sacrifices during the period in question and have worked hard since. We are hurt, disillusioned, and angry about the paucity of economic opportunities that have come with liberation.

The future looks bleak indeed unless drastic steps are taken now to reverse current conditions and trends.

In addition, our nation is more stratified economically and socially today than we were during the first decade of independence (1980-1990). Resultantly, our nation has also become more politically polarised and more politically unstable.

Worst of all, Mugabe’s continued dictatorship has meant fewer opportunities for younger Zimbabweans, a decline in the upward mobility that’s been at the heart of our country’s promise since 18 April 1980. This isn’t the Zimbabwe we want for ourselves and our children.

As Zimbabweans at home and abroad, we have tried every possible and peaceful means at our disposal to extricate ourselves from the firm grip of this rotten and evil regime in Zimbabwe but without any success. We are wondering just how long we are going to continue in this desperate situation of ours.

We hope, comrades, that you understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

However, “Colonised or oppressed peoples shall have the right to free themselves from the bonds of domination by resorting to any means recognised by the international community” (Article 20 (2) of the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights).

Nonetheless, we Zimbabweans do have a responsibility to change the way things are done in the country. Our greatest error has been to expect other people to act on our behalf. The message should be ‘none but us.’ Others, especially outsiders, can only help.

We have to do the work and not behave as if we have been spoon-fed all these years. We need to take charge and move our nation forward. Stand up and be counted so that democracy will be restored in our country.

It is thus hoped that sustained political pressure will in the long-term help us usher in an era of free, fair and credible elections; elections that are acceptable to Zimbabweans, Africans and the international community.

The very fact that the poll result in Zimbabwe has not been accepted locally and internationally leaves a lot to be desired. The democratic and credibility test has not been passed and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) have let down millions of suffering and oppressed Zimbabweans who had hoped for a sane government in their country.

I wish to commend the international community for the stance they have taken regarding the poll outcome. I predicted the stance and with that it is hoped that Zimbabweans will get the kind of government that they really deserve.

There is no way Mugabe could have won the way he did if really we had a free, fair and credible poll. I am a Zimbabwean not only by birth but in every sense of the word. And I know my country deserves the best, with the best, for the best.

It is not the right time for the external world to stand idly by whilst innocent people continue to suffer. We have the responsibility to help Zimbabweans come out of the human-made hell they find themselves in.

In conclusion, we have the talent and the resources to create a better future, a future in which the economy grows and prosperity is shared. What is preventing us from shaping that future is not the absence of good ideas.

It is rather the absence of a national commitment to take the tough steps necessary to make Zimbabwe more democratic and the absence of a new consensus around the appropriate role of government in a nascent democracy.

Finally, our system of social organisation is our greatest resource, a system that for generations should encourage constant innovation, individual initiative, and the efficient allocation of resources. May God help Zimbabwe! Aluta continua! The struggle continues unabated!

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