When I woke up this morning, before checking results of yesterday’s by-election on social media, I deliberately waited for state-controlled ZBC to see whether there was excitement in their newsroom or sadness.
When I heard them read news on farming and investment in Zimbabwe – completely ignoring any mention of the by-elections (which, ironically, they had given rolling coverage the previous day) – I immediately knew that the ruling ZANU PF has suffered immense humiliation at the polls!
That is when I went online to check out the results for myself – whereby, I finally understood the source of the gloomy and melancholic atmosphere within ZBC, to the extent of pretending there had been nothing of significance happening yesterday.
It became clear that the two-month old Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) opposition party, led by Nelson Chamisa, had romped to a thunderous victory in all urban constituencies, which (as the MDC-Alliance) they had been robbed through controversial and questionable recalls by the shadowy court-created MDC-T of Douglas Mwonzora.
Based on the results so far – after suffering the most humiliating defeat of his entire political career, even garnering ZERO votes at some polling stations – it is clear that Mwonzora and his MDC outfit recalled themselves into political oblivion.
What this immediately means is that the CCC can now be optimistic that the people of Zimbabwe have sent a very loud and unequivocal message to both the regime and international community – that we are fed up with the unending ZANU PF-authored suffering and impoverishment (caused by unashamed grand looting of our national resources, and inexcusable mismanagement) and secondly that, Chamisa is the official undisputed opposition leader in the country.
This should also effectively put to bed any attempts at establishing some so-called GNU (government of national unity) with the disgraced Mwonzora, designed to stop the 2023 harmonized elections – under the pretext of an “agreement with the opposition to postponed disruptive elections so as to focus on national development”.
Furthermore, this momentum attained by the CCC needs to be fully capitalized on, by fiercely pushing for long-overdue electoral reforms, way before 2023.
Since, numerous revelations by such organizations as Team Pachedu, have exposed unacceptably high levels of discrepancies with the voters’ roll, as well as clearly questionable machinations by the ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) – which became even more glaring during yesterday’s by-elections, with numerous disturbing reports of voters registered to cast their votes at particular polling stations being denied that right, ostensibly because their names did not appear on the official roll.
This, in spite of them having successfully voted at the same stations during the 2018 harmonized elections – and, never moving from their registered residential addresses.
Furthermore, ZEC needs to be seen to be an impartial referee – which can stamp its Constitutional authority (as stipulated in Section 239) without fear or favor – notably, (iv) ensuring that those elections and referendums are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently, and in accordance with the law.
Yet, despite indisputable evidence of politically-motivated violence – especially, unleashed by ZANU PF supporters mainly against CCC rallies (leading to the cold-blooded murder of one), and undoubtedly shameful biased reportage by state-controlled media in brazen favor of the ruling part, whilst vilifying the main opposition, amongst a whole host of other electoral irregularities – ZEC has exhibited a worrisome lack of concern, even going as far as disingenuously blaming the victims for supposedly “seeking excuses for their electoral loses”.
It is urgently imperative for the CCC to maximize on its confirmation as the real opposition in Zimbabwe, by showing up its overwhelming support as teeth (that can bite) to push for these changes.
As we quickly move towards the larger and more significant 2023 harmonized elections – the job is now for the CCC to swiftly formulate and implement strategies to enter rural areas, where ZANU PF still holds great sway.
Chamisa and team now require very subtle and clever strategies, premised on a thorough understanding of the delicate and complex nature of rural politics.
The first hurdle they need to overcome are traditional leaders.
They need to understand that most of them are secretly sympathetic to the CCC – as they are similarly suffering under the burdensome and choking yoke of ZANU PF misrule and oppression – but, are simply afraid to come out in the open, for fear of the ruthless ruling party.
The angry outbursts and threats spewed by both president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga – to the effect that, any chiefs who supported the opposition would be removed from their positions, regardless of the fact that these were appointed by their clans – do not help allay such apprehensions.
As such, the CCC should formulate an approach that is reassuring to these traditional leaders, rather than a combative one (that will most likely just make them fall into the arms of ZANU PF) – which, provides chiefs and village heads with a real and guaranteed sense of security, that gives them confidence to boldly take the message of change to their subjects.
After covertly gathering the support of these traditional leaders, Chamisa and his team can work closely with them to secretly (as happened during the liberation struggle) ensure that what they (chiefs and village heads) say in public (purely for regime optics) is very different from what they discuss with their villagers in their homes.
The message has to reach ordinary villagers that, not only are their votes safe and secure – but also, once they have voted out ZANU PF, the party can no longer harm them, or hold them at ransom – and as such, the only solution for their safety, and surety for a better tomorrow, squarely lies in ensuring that the current ruling elite lost power.
The longer those in rural areas kept ZANU PF in power – albeit out of fear, and even an ignorance of the real cause of their untold misery and unbearable improvement – the longer they will be held hostage by the same people, and continually forced to do what they do not want.
Therefore, as Zimbabwe flies towards the 2023 harmonized elections – there is no time for the CCC to celebrate their recent incredible and resounding success at the polls – but, hit the ground running, post haste, in preparing for a nationwide overwhelming and undisputed victory.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.com