THE year 2023 is an election year for Zimbabwe.
Political analysts say the election will centre around the same old grievances that have been plaguing the country.
At the end of last year, Zimbabwe topped the World Bank’s world food inflation list with 353%.
Although elections often bring with them hope, political analysts have said that the upcoming elections in Zimbabwe will focus on the same old grievances — unemployment, corruption, healthcare and economic growth.
At the end of last year, the World Bank’s world food inflation list indicated that Zimbabwe had the highest food inflation of 353%. It was well ahead of Lebanon, which was in second place with 240%.
Despite government’s promotion of the use of local currency, goods and services in the southern African country are sold in US dollars.
It makes life hard for most workers, both in the public and private sectors, who are forced to buy dollars on the black market so that they can buy goods such as fuel.
The situation in the country has inspired leading local musician Winky D to write two songs: Ibotso, which is about wanting better living conditions and a corruption-induced poverty, and Dzimba Dzemabwe, a song about daily struggles.
In the latter, Winky D raps: “Night and day, my heart is bleeding when I look at the poor and the needy; everything has gone with the greedy; we need a national healing.”
But those aligned to the ruling Zanu PF party said his lyrics were not true. They didn’t like that Winky D evoked emotions.
As a result, the Economic Empowerment Group (EEG), an outfit of mostly young, privileged entrepreneurs and dealers linked to Zanu PF, called for Winky D’s music to be banned.
EEG secretary-general Clifford Hlupheko said at a Press conference: “Most of the contents are meant to sow seeds of despondency and anarchy mostly to the youth population. We don’t welcome that.”
They also called for the music to be banned from the national radio station and for Winky D to be banned from performing in Zimbabwe.
According to World Bank data, Zimbabwe’s youth — those born after the country’s independence in 1980 — constitute more than 60% of the total population.
Like in Zambia, the youth could play a key role in the upcoming elections.
There are fears that the youth will vote for the opposition.
The storm cooked up by EEG over Winky D’s music drew the attention of the biggest opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). Its leader, Nelson Chamisa, called Winky D “the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT)”.
Political analysts have said the upcoming election will centre around the same old grievances: Employment creation, fighting corruption, economic growth, and healthcare.
The only time that Zanu PF lost total power was during the government of national unity of 2009 to 2013, which brought together the Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s all-time strongman Robert Mugabe, and splinter MDC leader Arthur Mutambara.
Tsvangirai had beaten Mugabe in the first round of polls, but fell short of the 50%+1 vote majority.
An election re-run was set up and because of political violence, Tsvangirai withdrew from the race, leaving Mugabe alone.
However, negotiations at the behest of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) saw former South African President Thabo Mbeki’s “quiet diplomacy” bringing together the three principals to share power.
Zanu PF does not want history to repeat itself.
In his New Year’s Eve speech, President Emmerson Mnangagwa called for peace ahead of and during the elections.
He said: “We will be holding the general elections mindful of the fact that we are a diverse but one people, united by one flag.
“I urge each of us to continue being peace-loving and politically mature citizens.”
But while he’s on leave, political violence has flared up with video footage taken in Murehwa, 75km northeast of the capital Harare, showing elderly people being assaulted and interrogated for attending a CCC gathering last week.
Amnesty International (AI) called the violence outrageous.
“This callous, politically motivated attack against older people who had simply attended a gathering for a political opposition party is outrageous.
“Such cruel acts of violence, which have repeatedly marred Zimbabwe’s political landscape in the past, gravely threaten the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly,” said Flavia Mwangovya, AI’s deputy director for east and southern Africa.
While acknowledging the reality of violence, Zanu PF distanced itself from the perpetrators.
“It is, therefore, presumptuous, hasty, and even sinister to rush to brand them as Zanu PF members, given that we are in an election season often fraught with all sorts of chicanery,” said Daniel Garwe, the party’s Mashonaland East provincial chairperson and National Housing minister.
He also claimed that it could have been stage-managed violence by the CCC so that the blame would be put on Zanu PF.