Zanu PF holding nation hostage

HARARE - Much as the Nigerian journalists were deemed disrespectful to President Robert Mugabe with their aggressive questioning, few would disagree that the questions they raised were pertinent.

What made the whole affair appear discourteous is that the questions they posed were uncomfortable for an old man who has failed to give credible answers for his inordinate tenure.

The common riposte that “we hold or held our elections” is proving less convincing given the conduct of the elections.

Since the emergence of the MDC, the elections have failed to pass the “free and fair” test.

This is the issue, not the periodic holding of elections.

Since independence, two types of legitimacy — let’s call this simplistically, “the right to govern” — have played out in conflicting fashion.

On one hand, you have “electoral legitimacy”, and on the other, what can be described as “liberation war-based legitimacy”. What Nigerian journalists were asking was about genuine electoral legitimacy as witnessed in their own country recently.

In truth, Zanu PF does not believe in genuine electoral legitimacy — the internationally accepted route to governance.

As if to vindicate the Nigerian inquisitors, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere last week said MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai would never see electoral reforms.

Because of this intransigence over the years, the opposition has been hitting against an unyielding brick wall, splintering and re-splintering into some confused entities, now repeatedly “renewing” each other.

Mnangagwa, referring to the 2008 election in which Mugabe lost to Tsvangirai, claimed Didymus Mutasa and Nicholas Goche had cleared their offices in anticipation of an MDC takeover.

Zanu PF would never allow the MDC to govern, he said.

The certainty with which Mnangagwa speaks is not necessarily predicated on his party’s ability to always win; but that Zanu PF would never allow the MDC to rule even if the party wins.

The 2008 election was testament to that. The MDC elections boycott is understandable. Claims to liberation war-based legitimacy have presented an intractable problem for a simple reason.

The liberation struggle upon which this legitimacy is premised is an inerasable historical fact.

So when a party claims to derive its right to govern from a permanent historical fact, it is asserting its right to govern forever because nothing will ever alter such history.

The liberation war-based legitimacy and electoral legitimacy are thus conflictual.

The conflict arises because Zanu PF does believe in true electoral democracy for the potential change of power it poses, but the permanence that the liberation war-based legitimacy supposedly imparts.

It will be argued, of course, that Zimbabwe does hold elections and thus complies with the diktats of electoral legitimacy.

But the holding of elections does not seem to arise out of a genuine commitment to achieving electoral legitimacy.

Rather, this only meant to create a perception of compliance with contemporary regional and international norms.

In reality, history has shown that Zanu PF’s behaviour is perniciously dinosaurian; these elections must only and always confirm its liberation war-based right to govern; in other words, permanent rule.

The fear and threat that this might not happen is what prompts intimidation, violence, rejection of reforms and electoral chicanery.

Elections have thus become pointless periodic rituals with predetermined outcomes. We can argue about their raucous demeanour but the questions that Nigerian journalists asked were relevant.

Zanu PF, has over the years, rubbished electoral legitimacy and sourced its right to rule outside accepted justifications.

The idea of basing the right to rule on a historical epoch is anachronistic. Liberation war credentials can be invoked as campaigning messages. But they should not be used to hold a nation hostage — an antithesis to “liberation.”

It is tragic but not surprising that the younger generation of the Kasukuweres who should be reforming Zanu PF into a modern party mimic the archaic ideas of the Mnangagwas.

Perpetuating the liberation war-based legitimacy is only designed to reap material benefits for a few while broader society suffers.

    Comments (4)

    Zanu might hold Zimbabwe hostage for a while. But their end is definitely near. Even the huge dinosaur was extinct. This is where zanu is heading to to extinction.

    pride - 11 June 2015

    Even America does not have genuine electoral legitimacy. Their system is hidden from simple minds. some powerful people there decide who will be president and the policy to be followed. So in this modern world you dont let any Jack rule the country without any vetting.

    jonsina - 11 June 2015

    Even America does not have genuine electoral legitimacy. Their system is hidden from simple minds. some powerful people there decide who will be president and the policy to be followed. So in this modern world you dont let any Jack rule the country without any vetting.

    jonsina - 11 June 2015

    Post a comment

    Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
    Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
    - Editor

    Your email address will not be shared.