Mugabe Stretches Patient Zimbabweans to the Limit

Rejoice Ngwenya, Harare Zimbabwe

Sunday, April 6, 2008

RejoiceThe diabolical context with which African ruling elites generally perceive democratic processes is currently on the manifest in Zimbabwe. Outgoing president Robert Mugabe’s egotistical clinging to power, nine days after two million Zimbabweans showed him the red card only confirms speculations by ‘ Western detractors’ that left to our own devices, we Africans can never get the model of good governance right. Among other paranoid claims, Mugabe is questioning the credibility of the Zimbabwe Election Committee (ZEC), staffed and literally owned by his men – Chairman Justice George Chiweshe and CEO Lovemore Sekeramayi – in their ability to TALLY votes!

Civil society and opposition parties have always proven beyond reasonable doubt that the ZANUpf-bankrolled ZEC is totally partisan, biased and inherently incompetent of running a composite election process. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Robert Mugabe himself insisted the ZEC was composed of professionals whose credentials are beyond reproach. These are the characters that have taken eight days to pronounce Parliamentary and Senatorial results, and are still labouring under the undue influence of the outgoing ruling party ZANUpf to tell the nation who between Morgan Tsvangirayi and Robert Mugabe won the ticket to the presidency.

The paradox is that Mugabe has thus far no problem accepting that ninety seven of his Parliamentary and thirty of his Senatorial candidates won fairly. Infact, ZANUpf rubbed their hands with glee a few days ago as SADC and other so-called level-headed African election observers praised him for conducting an election in a ‘free and fair’ environment. He never raised an eyebrow, because he was confident that results would sway in his favour. Now faced with the prospect of relinquishing presidency to Tsvangirayi, his politburo met on Friday, April 4 and resolved to fight MDC in a presidential re-run. What re-run when we do not know what votes each of the contestants accumulated? The fact is that because the ZEC is controlled by Mugabe’s cronies, he has had a preview of the outcome and now wants to subvert the will of the people. Meanwhile, he still plays president by changing monetary and tax regulations, arresting foreign journalists and getting his barking dogs, the war veterans, to threaten more violence against remnant white commercial farmers.

On the other side, the restive Morgan Tsvangirayi of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has taken his case to the High Court in order to compel the ZEC to release ‘pre-run off’ presidential results. Tsvangirayi is a slow learner. Since 2000, literally all election results have been manipulated and disputed, wherefore MDC subjected ZANUpf to litigation that up to today has never seen the light of day. Both Constitutional amendment number 18 and new electoral laws that were supported by MDC created an Electoral Court, which one would have hoped Tsvangirayi and his legal team would use in the event of a dispute. Now what this new case may create is another torturous delay in the results, since both ZEC and ZANUpf will counter MDC’s court case. ZANUpf is now asking for a recount of the presidential ballots, which they already have tampered with on transit to the National Command Centre.

MDC’s spokesperson, George Sibotshiwe, correctly observes that results were compiled at polling stations and signed for by all contesting parties on official government stationery and transported and transmitted to ZEC headquarters, so a recount is an unnecessary evil. The question that therefore lingers and baffles the mind is how on earth Mr. Mugabe claims his votes were miscounted in such an elaborate and ‘free and fair’ system?

However, why I say Tsvangirayi is a slow leaner is entirely based on subjective fact. By allowing his ‘kitchen cabinet’ to scuttle coalition agreements with other opposition forces, he was driven by greed and exaggerated expectations of an outright 52% majority win against a beleaguered ZANUpf government. He should have learnt that in Kenya, Zambia and Malawi, dictatorships were eliminated by critical mass of combined opposition, rather than a charismatic popular outcry against authoritarian dictatorship. For many months, Thabo Mbeki gave him an opportunity to collaborate against a 28-year old dictatorship, but the prospect of presidential glamour, a large share of the national cake and pay offs to his personal campaign team shrouded his judgment. As it is now, his court application is bringing him face to face with the same judiciary system that denied him a hearing from 2000. The Zimbabwean justice system, including the entire Supreme Court bench, is staffed with Mugabe loyalists. The expulsion of ZANUpf fair-man Sobusa Gula-Ndebele from position of Attorney General a few weeks before the elections was a strong signal that Mugabe wanted fools not thinkers in his campaign train. Therefore, I will not be surprised if the courts acceded to Mugabe’s request for a re-count of votes by simply ignoring Tsvangirayi’s whimper and playing from the ZANUpf symphony of electoral deceit.

In the meantime, the provocative war veterans spreading rumours of a ‘ white invasion’ are preparing Zimbabweans for a bloody confrontation. Disgraced war veteran ‘leader’ Jabulani Sibanda, who was refused permission to address delegates at the last ZANUpf congress in December is back on the front page, urging his members to resist a ‘take over of the farms’ by whites. What this means is that in the event of either a presidential run-off, or a re-count, MDC members, sympathisers and exasperated Zimbabweans will take the fight to the streets, and before you know it, we are in a ‘Kenyan scenario’. This will be fodder for Mugabe to declare a state of emergency and rule by decree until death do us part.

Civic society organisations have already met to assess their options. So far, they have simply urged citizens to remain calm, while making suggestive gestures at the ZEC to complete its legal mandate. I want to hear them say that they are willing to defend the choice that Zimbabweans made on March 29, 2008. Robert Mugabe has, after all, no right to manipulate the will of the people, because now, he is just like the rest of us. He put the ZEC in place and loyal civil servants in positions of influence at polling stations, including Zimbabwe Republic Police details, so he must accept the results without a re-count.

For his part, Morgan Tsvangirayi will have to live with the prospect of a manipulated run-off, especially if he, as usual, offers political crumbs to Professor Arthur Mutambara of the other MDC and Doctor Simba Makoni of Dawn-Mavambo-Kusile. Why should they support him in a presidential run-off if they are simply going to make numbers in a government of national unity? While Morgan Tsvangirayi now needs his opposition compatriots more than they need him, all Zimbabweans must show Mugabe that we are no longer the cuddly softies he abused without response in the 1980s in Matebeleland. Mr. Mugabe must come out of his bullet proof German-made limousine and show himself to the citizens of Zimbabwe from behind the Israeli-made water canons. What do they say in Hollywood? We are now prepared to Die Harder for our liberty and a message for him from Arnold Schwarzenegger – Governor of California: "Mr. Robert Mugabe, you are fired!"

Rejoice Ngwenya is a regular columnist for He is a Zimbabwean Freemarket Activist and Political Analyst based in Harare. Send him an email at