Tichaona Zindoga and Nobleman Chinyanga
Yesterday saw some skirmishes in Harare as opposition hoodlums caused mayhem protesting the outcome of the July 30 elections which, ironically and for the first time in recent times, was widely seen as credible by the international community through their observer missions.
Earlier in the day, foreign observer missions accredited to Zimbabwe who came here on both long- and short-term bases gave preliminary reports of their findings and they largely commended Zimbabwe for the orderly and peaceful nature of the elections which was buttressed by peace and tolerance.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was being congratulated for managing the election process efficiently and adopting best practices including the use of Biometric Voter Registration and facilitating dialogue and consensus building through the multi-party liaison committees.
Observers also noted the degree of transparency in the process through the use of polling station-based voting and the display of election results on the V11 sheets.
There was no doubt that Zimbabwe had passed a major hurdle.
By afternoon results of parliamentary elections held across the country were being announced showing a majority vote for the ruling Zanu-PF which was commanding over two-thirds of seats while the MDC Alliance was some distance away.
The world was waiting for the routine announcement of the Presidential election results.
Then all hell broke loose.
Hoodlums were deployed from Harvest House in Harare – the headquarters of the MDC Alliance – to start a war in Harare’s central business dictrict.
They were drunk, drugged and armed. They attacked people and stoned property.
They wanted to storm the ZEC headquarters in downtown Harare and also the National Command and Results Centre at the Harare International Conference Centre.
At the end of the day what happened was not exactly unexpected. The MDC Alliance had promised to cause anarchy if it lost the election with co-principals Nelson Chamisa and Tendai Biti being at the forefront.
This is a key lesson. The opposition in Zimbabwe is hypocritical. They preach the loudest about the rule of law but when it comes to observing it, they happily play victimhood in order to deflect the public’s judgment over their flagrant disregard for the law.
During this year’s election season Chamisa and his lieutenants incited their followers to unleash violence and render the country ungovernable if he lost the Presidential election. The reason: to get back at Zanu-PF for winning the polls and, obviously, to relieve the post-poll dissonance and come to terms with the debilitating electoral loss.
During a campaign rally in Highfield West on July 10 2018, MDC-T Chamisa faction organising secretary Amos Chibaya threatened to illegally remove President Mnangangwa from power if the Alliance’s demands were not met. This is what he said: “Kana (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa na(ZEC chairperson Justice Priscilla) Chigumba vakaramba kutiratidza kuri kuprintwa ballot paper, taakubvisa Mnangagwa wacho. Taakuenda kuState House.”
The faction’s Women Assembly chairperson Lynette Karenyi-Kore also shocked peace-loving Zimbabweans and visiting foreign election observers alike when, at the same forum, she incited Alliance members to picket at their respective polling stations after voting “in order to safeguard your vote”. This was in spite of ZEC’s clear regulations which preclude voters and other interested parties from milling near polling stations especially after casting their ballots. Whether or not they had valid concerns and anxieties, the way the party planned to go about drawing the attention of Government, the region, continent and the world to their issues was just wrong. The end did not justify the means.
Instead of whipping his lieutenants into line regarding the observance of the rule of law, Chamisa seemed to be the one giving them the cue to speak carelessly. On July 16, Justice Chigumba had to warn Chamisa for threatening to announce the results of the just ended harmonised elections in flagrant disregard for the Electoral Act which precludes any other party apart from ZEC from announcing the results.
In spite of Justice Chigumba’s warning, Chamisa tweeted on July 31 that his party had won the election. He just fell short of announcing the collation of polling centre results as the actual and official election results, notwithstanding the fact that ZEC subjects results to meticulous verification first before announcing them.
“We now have results from the majority of over 10 000 polling stations. We’ve done exceedingly well. Awaiting ZEC to perform their constitutional duty to officially announce the people’s election results and we are ready to form the next government,” Chamisa tweeted just a day after the polls.
A fellow MDC Alliance partner, Tendai Biti, also held a press conference at the MDC-T Chamisa faction’s Morgan Tsvangirai House (former Harvest House) headquarters in Harare on July 31 where, he among other things, indicated that the Alliance had received the results of the elections from its agents. He, however, also fell short of announcing the figures despite the Alliance’s usual facade of bravado when its leadership is addressing its membership, whose majority are excitable youths.
“Results show beyond reasonable doubt that we have won this election and (the) next President (of Zimbabwe) is Nelson Chamisa,” Biti told the media during the press conference.
At some point during the campaign period, MDC Alliance spokesperson Professor Welshman Ncube told a campaign rally that Justice Chigumba was a national security threat.
“The biggest national threat today, the challenge to national security today, the biggest obstacle to a new Zimbabwe is Chigumba and her colleagues at ZEC,” Ncube said. Ncube’s colleagues have demonstrated beyond any shadow of doubt as to who between them on one hand and Justice Chigumba and ZEC on the other was threatening national security. Justice Chigumba and her team follow the law to the letter while the Alliance leadership brazenly and shamelessly disregards it. The MDC-T Chamisa faction of the Alliance was party to the painstaking two plus years of coming up with a new Constitution which was eventually adopted in May 2013. The Electoral Act is based on the people-made Constitution and it was enacted by legislators, who were chosen by the people of Zimbabwe. This effectively means that the Alliance, in pursuit of power, is disrespecting and trampling on the same people who it is seeking to rule.
Chamisa and his Alliance partners should respect the law and the people of Zimbabwe if they wish to be respected and taken seriously as political stakeholders in the country’s politics.
The people of Zimbabwe spoke loud and clear in a peaceful manner about who they want.
It is unfortunate that a person like Chamisa thinks that he can subvert the will of the people so that he can feed his ego.
The less said about the foul-mouthed and attention-seeking Biti the better. He obviously imagines making himself some hero in some post-apocalyptic Zimbabwe where he will stride tall and become a master that he clearly has failed to do in a normal and peaceful Zimbabwe.
Yet, it is not all gloomy: the Zimbabwean story is weaving nicely, not without unexpected hitches, into full new order that no one can stop.