Zanu PF will not reform itself out of power

HARARE - Chances of an opposition - even a grand coalition - to win the 2018 elections without genuine electoral reforms are slim as they stand to lose by a wide margin, political and social analysts contend, adding that only a National Transitional Authority (NTA) can initiate reforms and pave way for free, fair elections.

Zimbabwe Human Rights (ZimRights) director Okay Machisa believes the Zanu PF government will not move an inch in terms of electoral reforms as they cannot be seen dislodging themselves.

“Whether we like it or not, the system will not implement any electoral reforms before 2018 and the only thing is for Zimbabweans to unite and fight to free themselves from the Zanu PF bondage.

“With or without electoral reforms I am positive as Zimbabweans we can go to the elections and dislodge this government through the ballot.

“Zimbabweans are now awake and they know what they want, they know what to do and I am happy that they can now easily mobilise themselves around a single goal. People can vote this government out of power if they keep the spirit they have shown in recent months,” said Machisa.

The ZimRights director said as of now a transitional authority; the NTA was the only answer that can save Zimbabwe.

“Even in the event that Mugabe resigns today, Zanu PF will still pick his successor but that will not change anything, they will not move to implement any reforms. Ian Smith and Abel Muzorewa were also hesitant to implement electoral reforms at one time but that did not stop the revolution.”

Political commentator Elliot Pfebve said the opposition must be of no illusion that 2018 election is a foregone conclusion won by an opposition party let alone a coalition without meaningful reforms.

“Zanu PF will not elect itself out of power, it is simple a wishful thinking. The past decades have shown us that the party is prepared to rig elections come what may.

“What we need to drive home is the setting up of a transitional authority that will initiate reforms, pave way for an all stakeholder free and fair elections.

“My suggestion is that whoever will be in the NTA must not participate (contest) in the election to make the transitional authority credible and authoritative.”

Media activist Tabani Moyo said the elections in Zimbabwe are not won through popular vote but through 'administration'.

“It is this transformation of the administrative arm of the electoral process which is required which ranges from the printing, movement, storage, observation, monitoring of the ballot, the access and state of the voter's roll, access to the communities and voter education among others.

“If the opposition parties, whether in unison or singular interest fails to nourish itself on this front, the result will remain the same.

“In essence the opposition needs to be structured in the way it prepares for the elections, but up to now, there is no clarity on the state of the opposition's readiness to wrestle power from the ruling party,” said Moyo.

He added that the opposition is not organising its constituencies to vote and pressurising Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) to escalate its advertisement on the voting approach to be used in the elections.

“From my understanding they will be employing polling station based voting rather than constituency which requires high level of organisation on the part of the opposition.”

Human rights activist Dewa Mavhinga said chances of opposition winning 2018 elections without genuine electoral reforms are zero. “It would be a waste of time. It will be a repeat of 2013 and 2008 elections.

“The value of an opposition coalition is to demand credible reforms to enable free and fair elections.”

Mining activist Farai Maguwu said the chances of an opposition upset in 2018 are close to zero without electoral reforms.

“While there is severe internal strife in Zanu PF, the rigging machinery is not involved; they are almost through with the 2018 election. All they are waiting for are the names of Zanu PF candidates.

“Zanu PF resists electoral reforms because any free and fair election will sweep them out of power. The opposition in Zimbabwe, perhaps the most stupid in Africa, continues to participate in these sham elections for fundraising purposes while rehearsing their rhythmic 'the election was rigged' song.”

Political commentator Mcdonald Lewanika also believes a grand coalition of the opposition is not the answer to all their or Zimbabwe's electoral questions.

“Should it happen it would be a good thing and would certainly assist with unifying the opposition vote against Zanu PF. But though necessary, a coalition will be insufficient if it is introduced into an electoral train still steeped in Zanu PF’s favour,” said Lewanika.

He added that there is a need for the opposition generally to focus on all issues that have been problematic before, the unleveled playing field, skewed voter registration process, partisan management of electoral processes and militarization of civilian political processes. “It has to be borne in mind however that competitive authoritarian regimes like Zanu PF seldom reform themselves out of power. This doesn't mean they can't be defeated, it just means it can be harder and the opposition needs to be prepared to put in the work regardless of whether reforms are put in place or not.”

Media practitioner Nigel Nyamutumbu said there is minimal evidence to suggest that the Zanu PF government intends to level the electoral playing field other than cosmetic amendments to electoral legislation.

“It is worrying that three years after the enactment of the Constitution, long standing issues such as the need for the electoral authority to manage a clean voters' roll as well as to spearhead a transparent voter registration process are yet to be resolved.

“ZEC is inadequately funded to fulfil its constitutional obligations and it is clear from the government's fiscal policy that electoral reforms that will provide for the holding of free and fair elections are not a priority,” said Nyamutumbu.

He said there is however an opportunity for opposition political parties to organise themselves by demonstrating clarity on their policies and positions.

“The electorate will not vote them to power for the simple reason that they are unhappy with the status quo but because they can resonate with clear messages.

“While there are clear fractures in Zanu PF and the ruling party is probably at its weakest, the opposition needs to do more to counter the regimes electoral strategies, which of late include doling out goodies,” said Nyamutumbu.

Journalist Tonderai Kwindi said with the fractured nature of politics in Zimbabwe he wouldn't be surprised is Mugabe wins again in 2018.

“There are many examples from elsewhere particularly Kenya whose politics is somewhat similar to us. To dislodge a dictator you need a strong coalition. The key here is getting a universal face of that coalition; someone who is acceptable across the political divide.

“Chances for a coalition are slim at the moment but closer to 2018 polls, something will give in and we will have one in place,” said Kwindi.

He added that the sprouting of strong citizen voices such as Tajamuka and This Flag movement will awaken the politicians to the reality of what needs to be done to beat Mugabe at his own game.

“As for the reforms, there is no chance that will happen before 2018, unless off course if regional bodies such as SADC intervenes,” said Kwindi.

Social commentator Rejoice Ngwenya believes even if there was no electoral reform, there can never be a Parliamentary majority for any party.

“However, in the event that there is no electoral reform, I foresee a large scale boycott by the 'big' parties except the fringe nonentities.

“As for a coalition; perhaps two types: one that revolves around MDC led by Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru and the 'other' CODE allies. I do not corset an all opposition party coalition. There are too many entrenched self-interests, egos, anxieties and (mutual) suspicions.”

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