Tsvangirai scoring own-goals

HARARE - The constitutional referendum came and passed with few incidents.

However, this is never cause for complacency. The incidents in Mbare illustrate the deep-seated animosity between the MDC and Zanu PF which may soon flare up in wider proportions before the elections.

How the police deal with these seemingly minor incidents will indicate how they will handle any violence during the election period.

The police should not have a problem in identifying the culprits in the violence in Mbare if they are determined to nip it in the bud; the perpetrators were caught on camera.

Anyway, the fact that Zanu PF supporters would attack even partners in the campaign for a positive vote for the draft illustrates the failure of the drawn out so-called reform agenda to instil political tolerance.

Early indications suggest only over two million out of 6,6 million registered voters turned out for the referendum.

The low public response begs the question- — why a supposedly people-driven constitution would fail to draw solid support from the very people who purportedly drove it? Perhaps, this could be attributed to the fact that people were reluctant to vote on a draft whose contents they did not have time to fully digest.

Questions about the legitimacy of the ultimate constitution will also linger for the fact that the tail-end of the process was taken over by political elites.

In a nation of people desperate for change in personal circumstances, the apathy might also be a result of perceptions that a constitution would not cause immediate changes in their  conditions.

Unlike an election, the constitutional referendum did not provide the opportunity to effect the immediate transfer or retention of power.

The forthcoming election may provide such opportunity.

For that reason, the elections are likely to cause greater enthusiasm. The conduct of elections is critical.

The last presidential elections failed to effectuate a democratic transfer or retention of power because of suspicious electoral management by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).

This is why it came as a major surprise to hear Morgan Tsvangirai exonerating Zec, which withheld presidential election results for five weeks without credible explanation.

Tsvangirai appears to be a man caught up in the trappings of high office.

For a number of times, he has been quoted as “defending” this and that, for example, the time given for people to examine contents of the draft constitution before the plebiscite and the appointment of Jacob Mudenda as chairman of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).

In both cases Tsvangirai was and is on the wrong side of public sentiment. It was clear that the time given to citizens to examine the constitution was inadequate.

And Mudenda’s Zanu PF background  cannot possibly instil public confidence in an important body like the ZHRC.

Tsvangirai has now been quoted exonerating Zec for past misdeamenours. It is easy to understand Tsvangirai’s position though.

He has to create the impression that he is “ruling” and he is party to important decisions of government.

However, the reality is that Tsvangirai has barely held any substantive power or ruled as such.

Mugabe has and is; that is why Tsvangirai was not party to the reappointments, for example, in the security sector.

These are crucial appointments. Anyone who claims to be ruling should have some control of the instruments of coercion or at least have some say in the appointments of those in charge of them.

Only this weekend, four people believed to be Tsvangirai’s officers were arrested by  Augustine Chihuri’s policemen, one of Mugabe’s re-appointees.  

No doubt the arrests of MDC officials and members of civil society will continue until the election.

The point being Tsvangirai must not be under any illusion that he is ruling.  

If he has to rule in the true sense of the word he should stop being Mugabe’s poodle or defend institutions that have historically served the Zanu PF leader.

Mugabe only does what serves him.

Zec has performed atrociously in the past and has not served Tsvangirai;  it has to redeem itself first. Until then, Tsvangirai cannot defend the electoral management body.

As a defender, Tsvangirai is scoring spectacular own-goals. How is he going to challenge Zec if it performs poorly again? - Conrad Nyamutata

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