Sham or not, election flaws unlikely to unseat Mugabe

via Sham or not, election flaws unlikely to unseat Mugabe by Brian Raftopoulos Professor at University of the Western Cape

The recent elections in Zimbabwe were always likely to be problematic. Despite the hope of former South African president Thabo Mbeki in 2007 that his mediation efforts would lead to an vote that was “conducted in a manner that will make it impossible for any honest person in Zimbabwe to question the legitimacy of their outcomes,” this was the case neither in the 2008 nor the 2013 elections.

In the run up to the latest elections there were several issues that militated against a generally acceptable outcome. These ranged from Zanu PF’s persistent obstruction and widely reported problems around voters’ registration and the voters’ roll, to the persistent, though reduced, tensions over the sanctions conditions imposed on the Mugabe regime by the West from the early 2000s.

A combination of Zanu PF’s ruthlessness in dealing with opposition parties, the allure of employment opportunities, the shrinking social base of the opposition and the limits of Southern African Development Community’s response to a recalcitrant Mugabe regime, all constrained threats from the now factionalised Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of mass action against yet another stolen election.

Zanu PF ‘victory’ dwarfs 2009

Thus the results of the recent elections were only a surprise to the extent that Zanu PF’s “victory” was so overwhelming. In the March 2008 election Mugabe received 45% of the presidential vote while his party won 99 parliamentary seats, while in the same election Morgan Tsvangirai received 48% of the presidential vote and his party 100 seats. In 2013 Mugabe’s share of the presidential vote leaped to 61% while that of Tsvangirai plunged to 33%, with their parties receiving 159 and 49 parliamentary seats respectively.

How did this happen? It is still too early to make a thorough assessment of the 2013 elections. However some general remarks can be proffered. Firstly there is little doubt that Zanu PF’s deliberate obstruction in fully implementing the reform measures, in particular changes to the security sector, made it difficult for the MDCs to fully exploit any political spaces that may have opened up under such reforms.

But it cannot be denied that the performance of the MDCs left much to be desired, and their lack of political co-ordination allowed Mugabe to weaken their effectiveness and exploit the differences between the two factions.

The legacy of the violence of 2008 also appears to have played a role – while the run up was peaceful this time around, memories of violence combined with verbal threats could have been sufficient to intimidate voters into not voting for the opposition in 2013. ZANU’s coercive power over who has access to council flats and vending stands could also have influenced voting.

Sham or not, election flaws unlikely to unseat Mugabe


  • comment-avatar
    jongwe power 9 years ago

    Rigged or not, ZANU-PF knows how to get people to vote for it. Whether it’s dishing out maize meal to starving villagers one week before elections, dishing out stands to people one month before, or seting up “re-education centres” one month before, it seems to know what makes voters tick. Is methods may be unethical, criminal, and downright inhuman, but at the end of the day, who cares? If Zimbos truly cared that their futures are being decided by sociopaths, Zimbabwe would not be a peaceful country. At all.

    If we tally up what the independent media claims,

    a) the elections have allegedly been rigged since 1979,
    b) a bunch of innocent families got slaughtered in the 1980s in an anti-dissident campaign,
    c) some white farmers (many of whom owned SQUARE KILOMETRES of unused land) gambled with the “willing-buyer, willing-seller” clause and lost spectacularly as a result of ignoring warnings which were there since 1979,
    d) we were all much better off banking with forex dealers than the local banks during the hyperinflation period,
    e) new farmers would rather be ripped off by Chinese tobacco middlemen than actually growing food,
    f) food production slumped because our nations’ culinary experts can’t, for the love of God, find alternatives to baking wheat bread, because our educational system never taught them critical thinking or innovative skills.

    If all this is true, then there is no reason why anyone would allow Zanu-PF to stay one day longer. Yet people choose to do diddly-squat, sighing the same old, “Things will get better” cliche that was said since 1998, and hopping across the Limpopo border to be “necklaced” by psychotic Zulus. Definitely Zanu-PF has nothing to worry about, as they rule till Jesus returns.

  • comment-avatar

    It’s so sad to realise that before Independance, the African people’s voice and vote was not allowed to be heard in Rhodesia…..and now AFTER Independance, their voice and votes is still not allowed to be heard in Zimbabwe…..what a tragedy!!

  • comment-avatar
    jongwe power 9 years ago

    That’s why I choose to be like the cat or the donkey from Orwell’s Animal Farm. Either make the most out of a bad situation, or get what you can, or just don’t give a hoot, because no matter who is in charge, things will be the same, just like in every other post-colonial African country.

  • comment-avatar
    Guvnor 9 years ago

    The days of zanu muppets abusing the rights and freedoms of Zimbabwean citizens are numbered!

  • comment-avatar
    savimbi 9 years ago

    Zanu PF is obsessed with political power. Political power will not necessarily translate into economic prowess. Zanu has been running the country like their shambolic, deplorable bases in Mozambique during the war of liberation. In these bases killings, confusion, philandering reigned supreme. These zanu guys can never rise above this state of mind

  • comment-avatar
    Chivula Mapoti 9 years ago

    ” The Jewel of Africa, and it’s Breadbasket”,
    raped, pillaged, abused and shamed by Robert Gabriel Mugabe and his evil ZANU-PF.

    A psycopathic liar, megolamaniac, murderer, dictator and, like his buddies Saddam and Gadhaffi, a tyrant to his Pepople –

    “Cry, Our Beloved Country, Cry”!