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2023 “election” winners and losers must all be ashamed, but there is a silver lining

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By Dr. Musa Kika

Beyond any reasonable doubt, the 2023 Zimbabwe elections are the worst since independence. Yet this plebiscite, in a strange way, leads us closer to a collective response to our shared governance problems. We must all be ashamed – the “winners” and “losers”. For that reason, I am hopeful.

The “losers”, far from being just those whose names were on the ballot, is everyone who sought to achieve change. For losers, the shame is in how we allowed for so long performative democracy to take root, and not root out bad governance and bad behaviour before it mutated into the monster and mess we see now. We must take collective responsibility and be ashamed of our failure to unite and act with common purpose.

Many had predicted a bad election; the signs were all over. But none really predicted the extent of the masquerade. By nature, elections must have certainty of process and uncertainty of outcome, but not here. In Zimbabwe the winner is and must be certain. So, for 43 years elections in this country have yielded the same outcome, notwithstanding the constant downgrading of brand Zimbabwe. I refuse to accept that this is due to what the incumbent has to offer, unless prowess at manipulation!

Every single aspect of this election was litigated: delimitation; voter’s roll; nomination; nomination fees; statutory instruments gazetted for this election; accreditation, and so on. This is a serious indictment on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

For the first time, the SADC Observer Mission did not mince its words. The only other time an observer mission in Zimbabwe’s elections found clear fault in our elections was in 2002. The Thabo Mbeki-appointed South African judicial election observation mission of Justices Dikgang Moseneke and Sisi Khampepe, concluded that “having regard to all the circumstances, and in particular the cumulative substantial departures from international standard of free and fair elections found in Zimbabwe during the pre-election period, these elections, in our view, cannot be considered free and fair”.

More than any other time, post-independence, disenfranchisement was high in this election. And in arrogance and a sense of invincibility, foul-mouthed ZANU-PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa told Zimbabweans a few weeks back at a Chatham House meeting that if they don’t like what is obtaining, they must go to war like what they did! The danger is this: when people continuously perceive elections as ineffectual in establishing consent between the government and the governed, that is a basis for the termination of the social contract.

It is painful to see fellow Zimbabweans being so blinded by a desire for victory or hatred for a political opponent to the extent of hearing and seeing no evil. Unfortunately, disputed elections hurt both the “winner” and the “loser”. Disputed elections are a threat to our collective security.

Our strand of elections in Zimbabwe legitimise autocracy; in reality when the will of the people is subverted at polls this amounts to an electoral coup. Zimbabwe is a performative democracy, an abusive constitutional state that survives by pretence; pretence of being a society of laws when it is rule by law; pretence of a society of values when integrity and common decency have long evaporated. Pretence of elections when the outcome must be one way. This is how the Zimbabwean state operates.

Yet, there is reason to be hopeful. These sham elections can do one of two things: to lead many to give up and begin to consider Zimbabwe as a nation of failed governance, or to get us to be more serious with ourselves and have a genuine reconsideration of the path we have chosen. For if there is still any doubt in anyone – ZANU-PF or CCC or any other party or the so-called neutrals – that our elections are a facade, this August is the answer. These elections are a nullity – never mind what ZEC pronounced and what the courts rule. There is a sense of collective shame. We might not verbalise it – this quiet tension and the conflict in our conscience – but we must be all full of shame. We need that collective shame. Then, we will realise the value of collectively working on depolarising our society, and putting country over narrow sectarian interests.

Dr. Musa Kika is a Zimbabwean Human Rights and Constitutional Lawyer.

In Conversation with Welshman Ncube, Margaret Dongo

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While our team has been on a break we decided to rebroadcast some of your favourite episodes. Prof. Welshman Ncube lawyer,business man and politician shares his political journey, thoughts about the 2023 elections,voter registration concerns and if ZANU-PF has changed the DNA of Zimbabwe. Watch his episode here..

Margaret Dongo also shares why she walked away from ZANU-PF and the pain genuine war veterans experience watching the liberation war ideals being desecrated. Watch her episode here..

Audience Responses

From the Welshman Ncube, Margaret Dongo episodes, our community had this to say:

@judithmhondoromhondoro9712:
Thank you Trevor and Professor. Thoroughly enjoyed this enlightening conversation so eloquently explained.
@kingjulian88:
This is one man who have an amazing leadership, he is calm as it comes

 

@MrTaurayi:
This Lady stood up against the injustices of the system at a time when nobody could dare do so. She is a true hero and it is quite an honor to listen to her experiences, well done mukoma Trevor.
@lewisziroh8294:
Mr Trevor we need a part two….and knock in her head to write a biography asap.Her knowledge must be escorte

Coming Next: In Conversation with Rinos Mautsa

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Don’t miss the next episode with Telecomms, Energy & Construction entrepreneur Rinos Mautsa In Conversation with Trevor.

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in conversation with trevorZimbabwean entrepreneur and newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube sits
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