'Zim needs political will to realise democracy'

HARARE - Zimbabwe needs the political will, and has a long way to go to achieve the requirements and guidelines for creating a democratic society as set out in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) signed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa appended his signature to the Charter on March 21 on the sidelines of the extra-ordinary summit of the African Union (AU) held in Kigali, Rwanda.

The Charter outlaws unconstitutional change of governments.

Ironically, following the events of November 15, 2017, which resulted in Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to power, the change of government in Zimbabwe has become a topical issue in the country and beyond its borders with former president Robert Mugabe alleging his removal was unconstitutional.

Political analysts have said it takes more than words for Zimbabwe to meet the ACDEG guidelines.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme told the Daily News that Mnangagwa was displaying some deceitful political shrewdness by making all the right moves, saying the right things, signing the right agreements, charters and conventions but going ahead to do what he wants.

“No one should read too much into his signing of that Charter,” he said.

Among some of the items that Zimbabwe has to meet in terms of the Charter, is to promote and protect the independence of the judiciary, nurture, support and consolidate good governance by promoting democratic culture and practice, building and strengthening governance institutions and inculcating political pluralism and tolerance, promote the fight against corruption, promote gender balance, promote best practices in the management of elections and promote the holding of free and fair elections.

All these have been a thorny issue in the Zimbabwean political and economic sphere, as the country, still struggles to provide “free and fair” elections through implementing the necessary electoral reforms, combating corruption, having an independent judiciary and promoting political tolerance among a host of other issues.

Mnangagwa has, however, been preaching peace claiming the forthcoming harmonised elections expected in July this year, will be free, fair and credible.

He has even gone further to invite regional and international observers, something that has not been happening during his predecessor’s rule.

Saungweme opined that the incumbent was doing that to remain in power, adding he will do anything including direct violations to that Charter to remain in power.

“He learns a lot from Mugabe who goes to international fora and talk about dialogue and tolerance while killing human rights defenders and opposition supporters or keeping on holding elections every five years under the pseudo veneer of democracy while rigging the same elections,” he said.

“Mnangagwa’s military State age stance on corruption should make those hopeful about reforms from this man think twice. Just like he has accepted international observers to monitor elections yet he is not allowing transparency around printing of ballot papers or deployment of soldiers to villages.

“He masters the act of political acting, where in political theatre he plays different characters depending on the audience.

“He learnt from the grandmaster of doublespeak, Mugabe,” Saungweme said.

Mnangagwa, even though he has allowed other political players minimum space on national broadcasting stations, he has said airwaves will be freed after elections.

This also comes at a time when people are saying his will to fight corruption still leaves a lot to be desired.

Some claim he has been targeting his political opponents, leaving his “friends” who have a tainted record.

Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu, said: “It takes political will and a changed political culture away from the cameras and PR (public relations) objectives to adhere to principles stated in that document (ACDEG).

“I want to give ED (Mnangagwa) the benefit of doubt and see how he walks the signature going forward.

“Respect for rights is more than an issue of documents and signatures but a changed attitude and supporting institutions that make rights achievable and enjoyable to the ordinary citizen.”

Other civil society organisations have since called for Mnangagwa to ratify the Charter to provide a conducive, free, fair and credible election, premised on democratic principles.

Action Aid Zimbabwe has since launched a three-year project on African Governance Architecture (Aga), which focuses on creating awareness and enhancing the understanding of ACDEG by citizens.

In line with this initiative, it held a workshop for journalists in Kadoma last week, to enable them to conscientise members of the public on the Charter.

Another political analyst Shakespeare Hamauswa, said there are chances Mnangagwa can be able to implement some of the key tenets captured in the Charter, which include electoral reforms.

“However, I see two biggest challenges standing in the way for real democratisation in Zimbabwe: lack of political will and fear of the unknown future especially by the military junta which recently joined politics.

“The army in politics will not allow a situation that will see them getting out of power plus one which does not guarantee their continued access to their ill-gotten businesses especially in the mines.

“So the issue as it stands goes beyond legal requirements because political guarantees should be given through open discussions,” Hamauswa said.

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