The Way Forward

Zanu PF is waking up to the reality that their carefully contrived and manipulated election has in fact created as many problems as it resolved for them. In the first instance they seriously over rigged the election and the evidence of that is flooding in. The observer missions are discovering that they have a lot to learn and are now reluctantly admitting that there is a great deal that is amiss.

The Party (Zanu PF) is also discovering that they are unable to control the markets and there was no doubt about the reality of that – the stock market shed a quarter of its value in days and people are withdrawing their money from the banks. The banking sector is already very fragile and the run on their limited cash resources and liquidity is further exacerbating the problem.

The view from Civil Society and the international community has been equally damming – all have condemned the election as a farce and some have called for a re-run. The President of South Africa and the Head of the AU Observer Mission both made statements that they now regret about the peaceful character of the election, not understanding the coercion and intimidation that was used.

Today is the last day by which we can submit any legal challenges and this is basically under way as I write. Yesterday we went to the Courts to secure the “residue” from the elections so that we can use this in our forensic audit of the process. The last time we did that was in 2002 and then the rooms in which the residue was stored were raided and ransacked in the night.

Our Courts are so corrupted by the political environment that we do not expect anything from this quarter. Our challenges to the election in 2002 and 2005 are still to be heard!! However we felt we had to go that route – even just for record purposes.

Just to illustrate the futility of going to the Courts for any sort of justice, after trying to get a copy of the voters roll to be used in the election via the Electoral Commission and the Registrar Generals Office we were forced to go to Court on the matter. They ruled in our favour last Monday and on Tuesday the Registrar sent us two tonnes of paper – a printed version of the roll, one that could never be analysed in the time allotted.

The higher Court at which we might get some justice is that of the AU and the SADC and our main thrust today is to get all the evidence in and then set it out in coherent form and persuade these regional bodies that the elections were so heavily rigged that they should be nullified and a new election called. I think there is reason to believe that this is possible.

There are two possible scenarios for the way forward. The AU/SADC teams could declare that the election result did not reflect the views of the people and nullify the outcome. This would then result in negotiations leading up to a fresh poll – possibly in 2014. The present GNU would remain in a caretaker capacity. For me this is the high road as it would be principled and democratic and allow the Zimbabwe people a chance to resolve their differences peacefully and democratically. It would extend the present climate of uncertainty, but we can handle that.

The second scenario comes after the AU/SADC declare the results of the election flawed but acceptable. It is clear from an analysis of the results of the election that this would give the hardliners in Zanu PF the upper hand. The most likely outcome of this would be a military Junta type government with a thin veneer of democracy. If this Junta implemented their manifesto, then the top 1200 companies in the country would effectively be brought under State control without compensation, the banking sector would collapse and the existing economic decline would accelerate.

Our international relations would be seriously compromised including the recent tentative steps towards normalization with the multilateral institutions and debt relief would not be possible. Without external assistance and support, the financial crisis would deepen and further job losses will take place. An upsurge in the flow of economic refugees to regional States would take place and could threaten South African stability in advance of the 2014 elections there.

Many would say that this might not happen, that Zanu PF would see sense and moderate their policy stance in favour of MDC type policies. The statement from the Reserve Bank yesterday fitted such a view – but who in their right mind would trust them after our experiences in the past 20 years? Believe me – the economic future of this country is centered on reestablishing trust and confidence in how we manage our affairs. I can see no sign of that that taking place under the new leadership elected in the past two weeks.

But perhaps the most dangerous part of this scenario is the fact that such a move by the AU/SADC would establish a precedent that would allow other countries to flaunt the rules and standards for elections with impunity. It would also make it nearly impossible for organisations like the MDC to argue for strategies that preclude violence and mass demonstrations to achieve the goal of removing an entrenched dictatorship and corrupt autocracy. It opens the door to those who argue that power comes through the barrel of a gun and not the pen.

Many years ago when I was providing Chaplincy services to Harare Central Prison, I found that newly released prisoners could always get a drink at the local pub, but struggled to get food and help to find a job. In many ways the democratic movements of the third world find themselves in the same position. If you need a gun to wreck your country in the name of freedom, they are available; if you want to get change through the ballot box, the tools and support to do so are simply not available.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 9th August 2013