Mugabe wins, democracy loses

HARARE - What appears to be a landslide victory for President Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe’s general election marks a huge step backwards in the country’s quest to build a solid and mature democracy that guarantees basic personal and political rights to all citizens.

Zanu PF won two thirds majority in Parliament where its dominance had been in decline since the 2000 elections when the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) burst onto the political scene.

In the 2008 elections, Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC won 100 of the 210 contested seats in the House of Assembly to Zanu PF’s 99.

The remainder went to smaller parties, mostly the MDC led by Welshman Ncube.

That election marked the first time in Zimbabwe’s post-liberation history that Zanu PF was no longer the ruling party.

Last week’s general election saw this trend reversed, catching many observers, analysts and other political parties by surprise.

Tsvangirai, who faced-off Mugabe for the presidency for the third time, had been seen as a serious challenger and many believed that MDC’s confidence was justified.

Amid accusations of rigging, the scale of Zanu PF’s win means that it now has the power to amend the Constitution and pass any legislation at will. Mugabe hinted as much during his campaign, and it is well known that he is not happy about several provisions in the new Constitution that have reduced presidential powers.

Zimbabwe’s parliament is set to be reduced to a mere rubber-stamp institution of Zanu PF policies, most of which — such as indigenisation and economic empowerment — are populist in nature, and are detrimental to foreign direct investment.

The outcome of this election means the gains of the past decade in building a democratic parliament — representative of the diversity of the population, open and accessible, transparent and effective — will be eroded.

A rubber-stamp legislative branch does not qualify as a democratic parliament.

These democratic principles are only realised through a set of institutions and practices that include a guaranteed framework of citizen rights; institutions of representative and accountable government; an active citizen body or civil society; and mediating institutions between government and citizens, among which political parties and media are the most important.

For people to have any influence over the laws and policies that govern them requires the guarantee of basic rights: freedom of expression, association, religion and so on, as well as the freedom to vote in free and fair elections.

Zanu PF, by resisting media reforms and retaining punitive surveillance laws such as the Public Order and Security Act, has proved it is not open to these values.

While respect for these rights is the responsibility of all citizens, it is the particular responsibility of Parliament as the legislative authority to ensure that their formulation and mode of protection in practice conform to international human rights standards, and that they are not undermined by other legislation.

As the central institution of democracy, Parliament is expected to embody the people’s will in government, and carry all their expectations that democracy will be responsive to their needs, and help solve the most pressing problems that confront them in their daily lives.

In Zimbabwe, the most pressing problems are lack of jobs, lack of protection of human rights, poor infrastructure and lack of basic services such as water, sanitation, health and education.

Zanu PF has a very poor record in these areas, which explains why many are sceptical that the situation will improve.

It looks like good governance will remain a remote concept in Zimbabwe.

It is difficult for a parliament dominated by one party to become a pillar of good governance where public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources in order to guarantee the realisation of human rights.

Comments (5)

the headline is wrong, it should read Mugabe wins, idiots loose.

reason - 5 August 2013

hear hear, Mugabe is now a darling of the Matebeles. So when are you forming your new gvt. This tym we want action old man and not the sanction and Mdc-blame cry song

Chinx - 5 August 2013

I could not imagine myself a holder of a certificate in electronics which I did at Mutare Poly for three years being led by someone who probably failed O level. Somebody who do not think, today you say this tomorrow you say that. Today you say I am confident that I am going to win but when you lose you say they rigged. If shows a HIGH LEVEL OF MENTAL DISORDER

juwachuwa - 6 August 2013

JUWACHUWA, sure hauna kudzidza!!! Wakabva watadza kuitawo kana diploma zvaro?? Uri juwachuwa chairo, gudzamudungwe!!! Next time dont display you lack of education!!!

jojo - 6 August 2013

A country shld be ruled by an intellect not an uneducated person who often show signs of irrationality. Tsvangson 4get abt being the President of Zim and try farming. Once Mugabe said, "Tsvangirai will neva neva, rule this country." It's true and us learned pple cant be ruled by sm1 asina kudzidza.

jah - 7 August 2013

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