By Nobleman Runyanga
It is a few days after the first anniversary of the history-making 30 July 2018 harmonised election when Zimbabweans participated in the first harmonised elections in the new dispensation. And what a refreshingly different election it was! But not so for the opposition, that lost and continues to wallow in denial which has seen it resort to the destructive politics of baseless protests and vengeance sabotage.
Refreshingly different election
It was a different election even for the opposition. In the 19 years of its existence the MDC had never had so much unfettered access to the country’s rural areas – the deciders of the overall winners of any national election in Zimbabwe. Thanks to the new dispensation’s opening up of the democratic space, that party’s leader, Nelson Chamisa traversed the length and breadth of the country chalking over 70 rallies which he wasted by delivering utopian promises and outright falsehoods.
It was a different poll even for some Western countries and blocs such as the Commonwealth and the European Union (EU) which last observed elections in the country back in 1992.This time around they were invited to observe the polls together with regional and continental blocs, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) respectively. Observer missions obviously differ in their perceptions and observations but they were unanimous in one observation: that the political environment ahead of the elections was hugely different from the one that characterised past polls under the Robert Mugabe administration.
As Zimbabwe basked in the sunshine of a new electoral dispensation, the MDC sensing the unmistaken smell of defeat, sought to throw spanners into the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s clockwork of seamless election administration by unleashing its excitable youths onto the streets of Harare to protests against ZEC which was in the process of collating and announcing election results. This led to the unfortunate 1 August 2019 incident.
Building the country
Following his win, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had no illusions about the work that awaited him and Zimbabweans in rebuilding the country from the ruins of the Mugabe administration which superintended over a two decade economic deterioration, went to work straight away. In the one year that he has been in office he has acquitted himself admirably and laid the framework for economic prosperity.
One of the contentious issues which the opposition always harps on is electoral reforms. Government is already seized with attending to the matter and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Sibusiso Moyo has already told the world that by mid next year Zimbabwe would have completed the electoral reforms task.
Another issue which citizens have frequently complained to Government about is the cancer of corruption which has gnawed at the very core of the economy for decades limiting economic development and affecting the quality of life of many. Noticing that the Mugabe era Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission (ZACC) only acted as a window dresser in a country that was festering with unbridled corruption, President Mnangagwa appointed a new and no-nonsense commission chairperson, Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo and gave it “teeth” by granting the body arresting powers.
Unlike Mugabe who would pick commissioners, President Mnangagwa let the Parliament handle the selection of the commissioner in line with the dictates of the Constitution. The process enabled members of the public to nominate potential commissioners. To demonstrate his desire for a united Zimbabwe, he assented to the appointment of a known opposition politician, Jessie Majome to the commission, something which was unheard of in the past. Barely a month into its term the commission has already nabbed Government big wigs such as the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Prisca Mufusire and former Director of State Residences, Douglas Tapfuma as it moves to tackle cases of over 200 high profile cases of corruption.
It is a given that in order for the economy to recover Government needs to create an enabling environment and it has moved to do that. It has consolidated the Special Economic Zones and the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Acts into the Zimbabwe Investment Development Authority (ZIDA) which will spearhead the country’s investment drive.
While the results of all these painstaking efforts are yet to cascade down to the ordinary man in the street because of the extent of the Mugabe regime’s post 2000 two-decade ruinous policies, Government has made significant strides on the economic front. The Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) has received approval from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which has agreed to hand-hold the country through a staff monitoring programme as it implements the economic blueprint. The EU has also given Government’s economic recovery efforts thumbs up.
For years the opposition and other stakeholders have complained of what they termed restrictive laws such as the Access to Information and the Protection of Privacy Act, the Public Order and Security Act and the Broadcasting Services Act. Parliament is currently seized with a raft of replacement legislation for the first two and the amendment of the last one. This article would not have enough space to chronicle and document all the progress which the new administration has registered in the first year of its existence.
The defeated opposition’s mumblings
As was to be expected, while most progressive Zimbabweans look back at the bygone year with a mixture of joy and hope despite the accompanying temporary pain, the opposition marked the first anniversary foregrounding the sad incident of 1 August 2018. Given the opposition’s 20-year record of poor poll performance, it was expected that it would seek global sympathy by reminding the world of the incident but the MDC should be reminded that most of the victims of the incident were not its members but innocent Zimbabweans who were caught in the crossfire. It therefore cannot seek to wring political capital therefrom using unmerited victimhood.
The MDC was beaten fairly and squarely. Even a half-hearted poll petition at the Supreme Court failed to reverse the people’s decision. In fact, the MDC should be told here and now that its 30 July loss was not as a result of an alleged ZEC poll theft as it shamelessly claims to the world. The party was denied victory by the ultimate arbiters – the electorate owing to Chamisa’s inelectability and the party’s lack of a sound ideology and life-changing programmes.
Frustrated by its own failure, the MDC has been seeking to unseat President Mnangagwa using protests using baseless claims of illegitimacy on the part of the President. One of the people who have bought this lousy story is the chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Jim Risch who noted the occasion of the 1 August anniversary by issuing a statement using incitive language such as “Zimbabwe is facing a worse political and economic crisis today than in 2017 when long-time ruler Robert Mugabe was forced from power” to aid and abet the opposition’s long-held desire to unseat a Constitutionally-elected Government and replace it with the US’ own preferred stooge such as the MDC’s vice president, Tendai Biti.
Risch should know that Zimbabwe is a sovereign country over which the US has no suzerainty and should therefore not meddle in her internal affairs. The senator also rumbled something to the effect that Government should “hold to account” those responsible for the incident as if he did not hear the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Nick Mangwana last month stating that those who shot the victims “were not off the hook.”
Risch’s one-sided statement was conspicuous by its silence on the role of the MDC in the matter. The MDC set its yobs onto the streets of Harare unleashing an orgy of mindless and destructive protests against ZEC as if the electoral body is in place to award victory to an opposition rejected by the electorate. The protests was uncalled for and no security services worth its salt would sit idly and watch while a motley group of loafing youths unleashed mayhem in the country’s capital city in the middle of a major national election.
The content of Risch’s statement is wilfully oblivious to the Motlanthe Commission which investigated the matter and Government’s consequent appointment of Cabinet ministers led by the Minister of Justice and Legal Parliamentary Affairs, Ziyambi Ziyambi to address issues raised by the commission and concerns of the various observer missions to the 30 July poll. He ignored the ongoing re-branding of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZPC) following the commission’s concerns over the way it handled the riots of 1 August 2018.
The 1 August 2018 incident is a reality which cannot be wished away. That is why Government put together the Motlanthe Commission and proceeded to put in place the mechanics of addressing its findings. Risch should be ashamed of himself for opportunistically seeking to lecture a foreign Government on how it should run its own affairs.