By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
It is obvious that the authors of the disturbances which occurred in Harare on Wednesday 1 August 2018 had one thing in mind: a GNU. Let me explain.
You see, they knew that they have lost the election. Yes, just after polls closed and the first V11s from Harare and other urban centres got to their offices, there was a brief moment when those within the MDC started picturing themselves in government. But those hopes and delusions quickly evaporated when it became painfully obvious that once again, they had lost to a better campaign.
By Tuesday morning, the writing was on the wall. As results trickled from the provinces, the tapestry of a ZANUPF landslide started to take shape. In Uzumba, Shamva, Rushinga, Muzarabani and Mberengwa, wards were reporting MDC numbers in single digits against hundreds for ED and ZANUPF.
A new narrative was needed. The Selous Scout, David Coltart, realising that some of the V11s posted on polling tents had been blown away by the wind overnight, started an online campaign saying that these had been removed in order to be altered. To the public, unaware that every candidate’s agent (including MDC agents) had copies, something looked wrong. It seemed like a real problem.
Suddenly, they could claim that ZEC was cooking the numbers. Of course, not once did they challenge ZEC saying the figures ZEC was giving were different from their totals from their returns. Because they didn’t want the public and the international media to know their dirty secret, that they have all the V11s. And know they lost.
Just as they ran to the West to beg for sanctions, Biti called two press conferences to allege, without evidence, that Chamisa had won the elections. Chamisa himself, either hiding somewhere or celebrating with Joana Mamombe her victory in Harare West (apparently ZEC didn’t cook those figures) sent out a tweet like Trump claiming that he had won the popular vote. On what basis? Because you can only know that from the V11s, the same ones they claim are missing.
Biti was dismissive all all the African monitoring missions’ reports. SADC, AU, COMESA and other regional bodies had said the election was peaceful and free. It was all a sham, Biti said, and claimed that the EU had said it was a fraud. They didn’t.
Then their lackey, Patson Dzamara, angling for a ministerial appointment should Chamisa win and seeing his chances slip away, went on a social media blitz about a stolen election. They worked their supporters into a frenzy. And into the streets.
Of course, some were overhead claiming that they had been paid to march. Some said they were given beer and drugs. They were to march towards the international media, and provoke the police to beat them up. And they did.
The aim is to create a situation of chaos. In order to then say, in order to stop this, only a government of national unity can solve our problems over the next 5 years. And true enough, just as the first stones were being thrown at buildings and at innocent people, their soothsayer Ibbo Mandaza was on CNN saying ‘only a GNU can solve Zimbabwe’s problems.’
It must not happen. It can’t.
The biggest problem that the MDC and other urban elites have is to assume that ZANUPF has no supporters. That the passion they have for their party and their leaders is not replicated in ZANUPF. This is a mistake.
There are living and breathing people who support ZANUPF because it represents the best hope they see for our country. Then there are people who voted for ZANUPF because it offered a better vision for the country, better than science-fiction dreams about bullet trains out of Plumtree or airports in Murehwa. And then there are those that didn’t vote for MDC because the toxic association with Robert Mugabe as well as Chamisa’s failure to deny that he planned to make Grace Mugabe his deputy was just not attractive.
In addition, politicians will do well to not believe their own propaganda. The MDC has tried very hard to suggest that ‘these are the people we have had for 38 years and ED was Mugabe’s right hand man.’ While that fiction plays well at MDC rallies, the voters see through it.
First, many times Mugabe tried to kill ED. That must have been for a reason and clearly suggests he was not his right hand man. Second, over the last 9 months, ED has been singularly trying to undo the damage that Mugabe wrought to our economy.
To any right thinking person that means he didn’t agree with Mugabe’s policies. Third, ED was crucial in getting Mugabe out, a fact confirmed by Chamisa himself when he said at his final rally ‘vakaramba Mugabe, and ini ndinoda wacho arambwa.’
Fourth, Mugabe himself said he was not on ED’s side and endorsed Chamisa. To think that that endorsement didn’t hurt Chamisa’s electoral fortunes is to bury one’s head in the sand.
The fallacy that the young are with the MDC is another big problem. ZANUPF is the party of Pupurai Togarepi, Prosper Nachando, Barbara Rwodzi, Ethel Mpezeni, Matutu, Mayor Justice Wadyajena and yes, those girls with the EDhasMyVote matching dresses. These are not old people.
In fact, they are all younger than Chamisa. When ZANUPF has youth events, this is who the youths see. Plus the man they call General Bae of course. And the country’s president. They don’t get insult laden speeches from old people like Biti, but get to listen to business ideas from their peers. They don’t listen to Mnangagwa-bashing speeches but hear genuine concern for the Zimbabwe they want.
Tied to this is the fiction that all youths live in Harare. This is so sad, because they don’t. There are youths all over the rural areas, all over the new farming areas opened up by this government and benefitting from command agriculture.
Yes, urbanites and their youths can make fun of these projects on Twitter but to someone who is 24 years old looking at 50 hectares that their family can utilise and at their donated heifers from the Command program, those sneers are enough reason to suspect that if they voted for Chamisa, it will all get stopped.
So, when Twitter got saturated with lies about people voting every 45 seconds in Chiredzi and 8 million votes counted or 3000 votes in one box, the MDC leadership cynically manipulated youths into the streets.
‘We will die to defend our vote’, Biti thundered, but was not on the street to die for his vote in person. Instead, he was leading from the rear, in his cushy home and sipping whisky while watching the protest degenerate (not his word no doubt) into chaos. Everything was going according to plan.
The youths on the street did not relent in the face of riot police because, according to some in their number, they had been sent to ‘create a scene’. To be on the cameras. And that they did.
‘The soldiers beated me’, one of them said, in broken English. We are supposed to assume of course that this person was sophisticated enough to understand what ZEC is allegedly doing with the V11s.
‘We won this election, because our candidate speaks better English than Mnangagwa and is more handsome’, Biti had said. So these youths are in the streets to defend their vote cast for a more handsome candidate that speaks the English which they themselves can’t speak?
The truth is that the MDC knows they lost. As one of them said to me in a private message, after sending me their internal totals which confirm that President Mnangagwa had been re-elected (it has actual numbers but l can’t say them here as ZEC will not like it) with no run-off: “They know but vakuru havadi kunzwa naResults iwaya. Nelson wants to make himself a cult hero-like, to isolate any future challenge. Now that they are people who are willing to die for him makes him a hero. And they want a GNU.”
The cynical manipulation of innocent and desperate youths for personal gain is morally reprehensible. The use of human beings for personal political gain is irresponsible.
These actions must not be rewarded with a GNU. First, it sets a bad precedent: every candidate that loses an election in future can create chaos just so that they can get into government.
Second, and to my mind more importantly, it will be a blatant theft of the vote of the more than two million of us that voted for a ZANUPF government. Yes, we might be from backwater places like Makuwerere in Mberengwa or Chikombedzi, but our vote matters as much as those of the people from Pomona and Borrowdale Brooke. A GNU would inflict upon us people that we did not vote for.
We didn’t vote for spaghetti roads, hell some of us either don’t like or don’t even know spaghetti. We did not vote for airports in our backyard. We did not vote for kings in Bulawayo or for changing the name of the country to Great Zimbabwe.
We did not vote for an increase in the cost of living in Gweru when it becomes the capital city. We rejected these things and voted for affordable health care, for modern roads, for heifers from Command Farming, for upgrades of Matapi flats and community swimming pools in high density areas. We voted for mbeu and fertiliser from government and jobs, jobs, jobs.
Just as others are willing to march to defend their vote, no one should be under any illusions that we are not prepared to march to defend ours. We didn’t vote for a GNU. If we wanted one we would have given no party a majority. We gave ZANUPF a two thirds majority in Parliament not so that they can change the constitution to give us a GNU, but because we know that in the last Parliament they had a similar majority and didn’t abuse it. And because there are more of us than there are MDC supporters.
We expect our vote to be respected now. We must not have a GNU with people that put personal interest over the national interest. These are the same people that have begged the West for sanctions then said “Tongai tivone.” We must not have a GNU with people that have won less than a third of the seats on offer in Parliament.
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is a Harare based lawyer and member of the ruling Zanu PF party.