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We must demand change

By Tapson Muchena

It has been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Zimbabweans cannot, must not, participate in another ZANU PF controlled election. That would be madness indeed!

Samuel Meso holds a banner with a message directed at Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe while taking part in a demonstration in Harare in this Wednesday, August, 3 2016 photo. Mesos graduation graduation gown was once a source of pride for the 25 year old Zimbabwean who studied enginering.Now he cant get a job, and the academic attire is a badge of shame and protest that he wears to ant government demonstrations in Zimbabwe where discontent over economic hardships is growing. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Yet that is the way we are heading. We have the same contenders that we have had in every election since 2002: Robert Mugabe v Morgan Tsvangirai; the same contending parties: ZANU PF v MDC-T together with a number of vote-splitting minor opposition groups; the same electoral process conducted by a ZEC that answers to ZANU PF; and signs of the same ZANU PF vote rigging,this time in the appointment of Nikuv International Project to manage, store and compile the voter data collected by Laxton Group’s biometric voter registration system.

Without game-changing electoral reform, we are inevitably heading for yet another Mugabe and ZANU PF victory at the 2018 election as we have had in every election since 2002.

As commentator Vince Masewe tweeted recently, Zimbabweans must realise that liberation politics is now dead and we now need inclusive developmental politics led by a new breed.

 

Seismic shift

There is a seismic shift going on in politics in this country. It is incumbent on us to manage it to bring about free and fair elections and a peaceful, prosperous and democratic society in the new Zimbabwe.

People are beginning to realise that Zimbabwe’s crisis is not going to be solved by elections in 2018. This is now a liberation struggle. Our independence was won in 1980 but not our freedom. Now we want to be free.

The last days of ZANU PF are upon us. The party is imploding as G40 and Team Lacoste battle it out and Zimbabweans continue to suffer during its death throes.

ZANU PF is a failed brand. Gukurahundi and Murambatsvina, a collapsed economy, pillaging of natural resources, bungled land redistribution, shameless looting and personal aggrandisement, violence and oppression have deprived ZANU PF of any legitimacy. That party has no future in the new Zimbabwe.Now is the time for people of good will in ZANU PF to stand up and abandon it.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s greatest achievement has been to thwart Mugabe’s vision of a one party state. However, he has run his race. It is time for him to stand aside and to allow new leadership to emerge in his party. If he stands as a candidate in the 2018 elections, ZANU PF will chew him up and spit him out as they have done before. If he retires now, Tsvangirai’s future will be as an honoured elder statesman.

The MDC-T’s attitude that Tsvangirai has some kind of right to the opposition vote is disturbingly similar to ZANU PF’s often-expressed sense of entitlement. We must eschew that kind of thinking in Zimbabwean politics.

MDC-T vice president Nelson Chamisa has been reported as warning other opposition parties that they cannot expect to enjoy the spoils of a struggle that they did not sacrifice for as the parties endeavour to form a united opposition ahead of the 2018 elections.

According to Chamisa, because the MDC-T has been in the trenches challenging ZANU PF since its formation in 1999, its leaders battered and incarcerated and its supporters attacked and murdered, only Tsvangirai is entitled to lead a grand coalition. Chamisa’s view indicates that MDC-T does notreally want a coalition; they are looking to absorbthe other opposition parties. It is a view that cannot go unchallenged.

A united opposition

The grand coalition must be a coalition against tyranny and not a coalition for entitlement to political office.A united opposition will require a high degree of cooperation and respect for each other to get behind true leaders dedicated uplifting the people and restoring the nation. ZANU PF is tearing itself apart because its leaders are locked in a bitter struggle for power. A united opposition must avoid the same pitfall.

A united opposition implies having just one opposition candidate in each electorate who is supported by all opposition groups. Otherwise the opposition vote will be split and that will be disastrous.

The smaller parties will each make their contribution to a united opposition just as small streams fill bigger streams that become a raging torrent.

Groundswell for change

There is an increasing groundswell for change among Zimbabweans. The emergence of independent candidates such as Nkosana Moyo and Fadzayi Mahere, and moves in some quarters to urge Shingi Munyeza and Strive Masiyiwa to stand, are in response to deep public dissatisfaction with current leaders and a recognition that we cannot continue down the same path as before.

Youth groundswell

There is a dramatic groundswell for change among Zimbabwe’s youth. They know from social media what life is like in Zimbabwe compared with life in other countries that are rich in natural resources, that are well governed and where the people are educated.They want the same opportunities in Zimbabwe.

All our children in Zimbabwe have known is starvation, unemployment, corruption, oppression and parents going for months without pay. They have learned to live with an intermittent electricity supply, bathing only when the water flows, and boiling their drinking water. They take for granted potholes in the roads and uncollected garbage by the wayside.

Our youth have clearly heard the message to register and vote and this message is being widely promoted on social media by individual young people and by youth organisations.They do not want a President whose solution to youth unemployment is “go and herd cattle”.

Our children have never known freedom. We must stand with them now and fight to liberate them.

ZANU PF’s idea of nationhood has failed disastrously. A new generation is rallyingto redefine a 21st Century nation.

The way forward

I am impressed by ZUNDE’s proposed roadmap to free and fair elections that consists of three basic steps:

  1. Mobilisation of the populace in peaceful mass demonstrations to petition the ZANU PF government to stand down.
  2. Putting in place an interim transitional authority as a caretaker government to administer Zimbabwe and ensure accurate and secure biometric voter registration.
  3. Internationally supervised free and fair elections.

#This Flag and #Tajamuka have demonstrated that the people are ready to take action when they have courageous, innovative leaders. ZUNDE has called on Morgan Tsvangirai,leader of the largest opposition party and the one best positioned to mobilise the populace, to show true leadership and mobilise his followers into organised and sustained public protests calling for the ZANU PF government to stand down so an interim transitional authority can be put in place.

If he does this, he will guarantee that other opposition groups will join and support him. If he contests another election in 2018 under existing electoral conditions, it will lead to his political demise but, if he will lead us to an interim transitional authority, he will earn the enduring esteem of a grateful nation.

We must not allow ourselves to be dragged into yet another stolen election. We must seek another way.We must demand change.

 

TapsonMuchena is an academic anda keen observer of the Zimbabwe situation. He can no longer remain silent. tapson.muchena@gmail.com.

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