Opposition should learn from Mwenezi poll

HARARE - The country’s disjointed opposition parties should draw lessons from the recently-held Mwenezi by-elections that Zanu PF will not reform itself out of power, but will instead push for elections under conditions that guarantee its victory.

While the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai, boycotted the polls in line with its “no reforms, no elections” stance, the two smaller parties that participated were given a thorough hiding by Zanu PF which polled 18 700 votes while their combined figures were less than 1 000 and both were less than the spoiled votes.

There is a real danger that failure by the country’s over 50 opposition political parties to unite and speak with one voice could be a gift for Zanu PF, because if some parties insist on participating in the next year elections even in the absence of key benchmarks to ensure free and fair elections, then they would lend credibility to the whole charade and thus legitimise Zanu PF rule.

We are aware that in Mwenezi East, a downtrodden remote area, the villagers were intimidated and enticed with foodstuffs.

We are also aware of the disturbing trend that started in 2013 where a large number of people are assisted to vote, never mind our 91 percent literacy rate.

Zanu PF might be experiencing internal upheavals spurred by President Robert Mugabe’s old age and the natural succession question, but as history has taught us — faced with the opposition — the ruling party always unites.

What more, its victory has little to do with its commissariat but the well-oiled State machinery at its disposal.

So the glaring irregularities in Mwenezi are to us a microcosm of the macrocosmic 2018 election where stakes will be undoubtedly higher as the ruling party will presumably go a gear up in trying to maintain its grip on power.

Thus we would like to call upon the country’s opposition to be wary of fly-by-night parties that might rock the boat and create discord in their calls for electoral reforms.

It is predictable, given the multiple opposition parties that litter the country’s political arena, that come the penultimate test in 2018 some would muddy the waters and plunge into the polls even if the outcome would be obvious.

We believe the country must reform the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which, up until now, is packed with characters with links to the country’s security establishment and it must be reformed.

The voters’ roll must be accessible and affordable and vote-buying should be punishable.

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