Zim at point of no return

HARARE - The referendum has come and gone and if we are to believe the pronouncements, it was approved “by an overwhelming majority”.

They were not a majority, let alone overwhelming. But where was everybody? Surely, a quarter of the population cannot make such gestures of electoral permanency on behalf of the majority and the nation.

This is the kind of thing that causes the nation misery when issues around this referendum start going wrong.

Clearly, all the political parties must be very worried about the voter turnout and what it means within a democratic dispensation. I have always been made to believe that Zanu PF had more supporters than those who voted.

I had always believed that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC had managed to get into the people’s psyches well-enough to have over four million supporters by now.

So am I to believe that the 3 259 454 who voted and the 56 627 who spoilt the ballots are the hardcore supporters of the three parties in government?

And just how do you get such a high number of spoilt ballots?

I am trying to think why people did not come out in droves as requested by all the Principals in government. Could there be some meaning in this?

Is it possible that people are just tired of these three men and do not really believe these elections and referendum will solve our problems?

For whatever reason, the turnout should be of great concern to the leaders and to us as well because we cannot really rejoice over an outcome that is mapped and executed for the nation by a quarter of the population when more than nine million did not vote for whatever reason.

And the reasons are many.

I am not yet ready to rejoice and say things went peacefully because there were a lot of incidences that occurred which should just be as much cause for concern as counting those killed in political violence.

We have watched as violence, harassment and arrest of Zanu PF opponents steadily grew into large numbers as we approached the referendum. Indeed, before, during and after the referendum, this trend continues.

People, human rights lawyers and activists, officials of other political parties, NGO officials and others were being picked up by the partisan police force in such large numbers and frequency as to “jolt South African President Jacob Zuma into action”.

And Zuma’s action comprised of sending the same useless team of non-achievers for unfruitful consultations, barren talks and hiding information from the very people they had purportedly come to save.

“We are in the country, but we are not talking about that now (arrest of human rights lawyers and others) as we are still busy. So I can’t tell you anything,” Lindiwe Zulu said when asked about what prompted the visit.
Be that as it may, I am hoping that the “overwhelming approval” given the referendum was not the signal Zanu PF was waiting for to escalate violence, to commence confusion as can be seen in contradictory statements concerning the holding of elections, to arrest and hold innocent people on trumped-up charges.

It is a fear founded on reality.

We should wonder about our country and our security when court orders are defied by law enforcement agents. People responded and gave the three Principals what they wanted, in spite of the fact that the three gentlemen have not been honest with the people since the formation of the unity government.

“It is extremely urgent that all matters agreed upon in terms of the GPA are implemented speedily so that adequate preparations are made for a level playing field for the forthcoming elections,” said Jacob Zuma yet the referendum was held under the same unacceptable conditions as he watched.

Things have reached a point of no return and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai must ensure that he did not mislead the people with this draft constitution and urging them to vote for it although just after the referendum, he conceded to the visiting South Africans that his party “is under siege from a partisan police force”.

I know what this statement means; I hope he does too. Whatever the outcome, Zimbabwe has reached a point of no return and I hope that this whole exercise will, in the end, confirm whether we have real leaders or charlatans who use people for their own ends. - Tanonoka Josesph Whande

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