We don’t know yet how today will develop. What we do know is that the opposition MDC-Alliance yesterday tried to overturn the will of the people as expressed in the Monday, July 30 harmonised elections, by claiming that the vote had been rigged and ordering unruly youths onto the streets of Harare to create chaos.
It was a very sad reversal to President Mnangagwa’s efforts so far to entrench our infant electoral democracy. It is also a slap in the face of President Mnangagwa who has appealed for peace and unity since coming into power in November last year.
It would be stretching the truth to assert that we saw this coming. What we can say is that there has always been an uneasy calm throughout the election period as MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa threatened to reject any electoral outcome in which he was not the ultimate winner. These threats were made in the face of international and regional election observers.
Some foreign observers have been in Zimbabwe from as far back as March. We believe it is a long time for Chamisa to have produced evidence of rigging if there was any. He never did. His focus, after he realised he was unlikely to win a free and fair election, was to lay siege on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and its chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba.
We believe the aim was to force her to accommodate the opposition’s illegal electoral demands or to frustrate her into an 11th hour resignation, hence create maximum chaos and a postponement of the election. His argument was always that his party would not boycott the elections over the alleged flaws, but insisted that there would be no election if his demands were not met.
ZEC and Government called his bluff and he had no option, but to enter the electoral race hoping that his Alliance might lose with a respectable margin. Instead it was outside his wildest gamble. He decided to go back to his original threat that if he did not win, no one should enjoy the victory.
A number of foreign observers had just issued their preliminary reports yesterday on the electoral environment in the country up to the Monday voting, which were largely positive. They said the elections were free and fair. The alleged negatives they pointed out about ZEC and the public media clearly did not undermine the credibility of the vote.
By this time Zanu-PF was running away with the electoral trophy and observers’ comments were read by the opposition as an endorsement of the final result. This meant the MDC-Alliance had no valid reasons to explain its loss to its supporters, hence the decision to condemn everything on allegations of a collusion between Zanu-PF and ZEC to rig the vote.
It is telling for instance that an MDC protester in Bulawayo told South Africa’s eNCA television that 25 000 people in Masvingo alone had been assisted to cast their ballot. In the same clip he claimed a Zanu-PF candidate had allegedly received 50 000 votes. Both figures are totally fictitious to the extent that journalists, observers and party election agents would have easily picked them out. But that’s how far the party is prepared to go to make a case for being a victim of electoral malpractice.
To cut a long story short, the MDC has stayed true to tradition. Each time they lose elections they claim that they were rigged. Ahead of the elections they had already claimed that the X placed by their supporters on the ballot paper would migrate to the Zanu-PF Presidential candidate.
Nobody took this assertion seriously, but their resort to violence is meant to validate this voodoo science to justify their loss.
But there is an even more sinister agenda. The MDC leadership has refused to acknowledge the political and economic reforms undertaken by President Mnangagwa since assuming office. They have accused him of being another Mugabe or worse.
The deliberate acts of violence are meant to provoke the authorities to act so the MDC can “prove” to the world that nothing has changed in Zimbabwe and therefore no reason to endorse this week’s electoral outcome.
They need to be warned that there is a limit to this mischief. Chamisa and Tendai Biti should not be allowed to become a law unto themselves.