via Tsvangirai won in 2002, 2008 and 2013 | The Zimbabwean 26.03.14 by Douglas Mwonzora
In western democracies a new culture has developed whereby a person who loses a presidential election automatically steps down as the leader of his party. This practice has been used by some to justify their calls for MDC-T president, Morgan Tsvangirai, to step down in the aftermath of the 2013 elections.
But proponents of the adoption of this culture into Zimbabwean politics largely ignore the vast difference between the conditions under which elections are held in the west and those under which elections were held in Zimbabwe. Their argument is therefore flawed.
In the west, presidential candidates and their parties are allowed equitable access to the media before and during the elections. The violence and intimidation that characterise our elections are not seen in the west. The security forces do not interfere in the electoral processes of their countries as do Zimbabwean security forces. Zimbabwean elections have never been free and fair. Presidential candidates who lose elections in the western democracies lose to legitimately elected presidents. Candidates who lose elections in Zimbabwe lose to illegitimately elected presidents. So the moral justification of stepping down after an unsuccessful bid for presidency in the west cannot be used to justify stepping aside of losing presidential candidate here.
In 2002 Robert Mugabe was pronounced winner of the presidential election in extremely controversial circumstances – including mass murder and selective arrest of hundreds of MDC activists and the stuffing of ballots by Zanu (PF). Tsvangirai challenged the election results in 2002. But the High Court sat on the petition up to the time of the next elections. To this date no decision has been passed by the courts on Tsvangirai’s election challenge of 2002. Why then would anybody think that in the face of an undetermined election challenge, it can be said that Mugabe definitely and legitimately won the 2002 election and that Tsvangirai definitely and legitimately lost the same election.
On 29 March, 2008, Tsvangirai won the Presidential election. The notorious delay by the Zimbabwe Election Commission, headed by a former soldier rumoured to be fiercely loyal to Mugabe, in announcing the results are now a matter of historical record. Zanu (PF) and state agents went on to conjure a Presidential Run-off Election. The violence that was unleashed against Tsvangirai and the MDC culminated in the death of over 300 party supporters. Mugabe and Zanu (PF) were prosecuting an undeclared civil war in Zimbabwe.
Because the whole Run Off had been converted into a dangerous military operation, Tsvangirai advisedly withdrew from that election. How then can anyone say he lost? Many people have accused Tsvangirai of losing the 2013 election. SADCC and AU have categorically stated that although the election was largely peaceful and free it was not fair. They correctly found that Tsvangirai and the MDC were denied access to the Voter’s Roll and other pertinent election material. They were also denied access to the public media and could not adequately market their party and policies through the public media.
Everybody knows that Tsvangirai and the MDC were subject to sting security operations in spite of the new constitution that prohibited members of the security forces from meddling in politics. The work of Nikuv in circumventing the will of the people of Zimbabwe shall go down the annals of history as one of the most heinous crimes perpetrated.
Tsvangirai mounted a Constitutional Court challenge on this unfair election. He was denied access to key election material for his petition and denied the right to lead oral evidence from his key witnesses in support of his case. After being subjected to this injustice, Tsvangirai withdrew his petition. The legal validity of the 2013 election was not allowed to be put to test. MDC remains fortified in its insistence that the 2013 election in Zimbabwe was a monumental fraud. In fact this was a huge military operation disguised as an election.
Africa has enough examples of presidents who did not make it to State House on the first attempt – notably President Michael Sata of Zambia and Former President Abdulaye Wade of Senegal.
The world must appreciate that those who are contesting elections against Zanu (PF) are fighting against a dictatorship which has been entrenched for over 33 years – something people in the west appear to have forgotten about. The fact that Mugabe is in State House now and Tsvangirai is not does not mean he is the legitimate occupant.