The outcome of the June 10 by-elections is unsurprisingly predictable and a big slap on the face of democracy.
By Ellen Shiriyedenga
This plebiscite has further reinforced the MDC assertion that in Zimbabwe any elections without implementation of agreed constitutional reforms are a farce, and create a one party state where Zanu PF is both the contestant and adjudicator.
Participation in these flawed elections propagates the longevity and consolidation of President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF dictatorship.
The MDC, however, salutes the bravery of the majority of Zimbabweans who expressed disgust over the crooked electoral system by shying away from the ballot.
In the same vein, we applaud some voters who saw it fit to express their displeasure by voting against Zanu PF inspite of their reservations about the electoral system.
These by-elections were devoid of all principles of freedom, integrity, credence and transparency; hence they are a further manifestation of the unlevelled electoral playing turf characteristic of the previous elections.
The propagation of this trend will further push Zimbabwe towards democratic oblivion and a hopeless nation with no basic freedoms.
The tragedy of these ‘much-a-do-about-nothing’ elections is that they have syphoned the nation of millions of dollars, which could have been injected into our ailing hospitals, which are now death beds, to our redundant youths that have found solace in ‘bronco’ illicit beer, and our ghost towns and cities where factories have now been turned into churches.
This is all thanks to Zanu PF’s thirst for power which seeks to sacrifice lives and future aspirations of all Zimbabweans in order to amass wealth and have free rein over hapless Zimbabweans.
The MDC has proved beyond doubt that there is no political will on the part of the Zanu PF government and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to institute the electoral reforms.
The dark cloud hovering over the voters roll quandary is at play despite Section 239 of the Constitution, which provides ZEC with the mandate of voter registration, compilation and full custody of the voters roll, taking it away from the Registrar General’s office.
Clearly ZEC has no game plan and deliberately so, two -years after the new constitution was endorsed ZEC is still in a dilemma of whether to adopt the old Tobaiwa Mudede voters roll or come up with new one.
The MDC expected that in its much purported voters roll pilot programme, ZEC would have been testing a new software model which links the roll to the Registrar General’s database and automatically cleanses the roll of the deceased and errors.
But alas, ZEC used the same old Registrar General’s voter’s roll and manually recorded new registrants in note books.
Surely, the MDC questions what ZEC was piloting as there was no new phenomenon introduced. In this regard, the MDC reiterates that it will not accept anything short of a new voters roll.
The perennial intimidation, violence and vote buying continues to manifest itself and thus robbing Zimbabweans of their glorified right to express their right to vote freely.
Notably, even Temba Mliswa’s court challenge failed to protect the voting rights of the people of Hurungwe West. Zanu PF seems to have perfected its art of using traditional leaders and vote buying to coerce the electorate to vote for it.
The shameless partisan broadcasting and publishing of Zanu PF campaigns in the state media prior to the sham elections gave a picture of a one party political contest.
This is inspite of the electoral laws that advance fair and equal airplay to all contesting parties’ in public media.
This continued refusal to operationalise the laws which secure the right of the voter and advance the voters freedom of choice, goes on to prove that Zimbabwe is still further away from executing a free and fair electoral playing field.
The Constitution mandates the Human Rights Commission and the Media Commission to redress these matters, but alas, they are muzzled as most are products of the Zanu PF regime and the few objective ones fear reprisals.
The lack of political will on the part of Zanu PF and ZEC to operationalise national laws that advance a fair, transparent and credible electoral playing ground will haunt Zimbabweans until 2018 elections and beyond, as such; Zimbabwe’s democratic gains will be reversed.
Participating in by-elections not only legitimizes fraudulent Zanu PF dominance, but also provides a concrete building block for a one party state which will give Zanu PF free reign over the suffering majority at the mercy of the elite few.
The MDC therefore calls upon all progressive democratic forces in Zimbabwe to fight for the implementation of electoral reforms.
A fragmented approach to this cause will not yield any results, but only propagates Zanu PF’s crooked dominion.
It is a prerequisite that the parties demand and lobby for the implementation of the total package of all electoral laws as dictated by the constitution.
The piece-meal approach to the operationalization of the laws by ZEC and government should be stopped forthwith, and an all-inclusive holistic approach be conducted.
MDC further calls upon ZEC to collectively adopt a plan of action for a new, clean voters roll with no discrepancies of the deceased as well as over and under- registration of certain sections of the population.
Auditable and analysable electronic copies of the voters roll should be given timeously to political parties as this will further provide credence and integrity to the electoral process.
Ellen Shiriyedenga is MDC director of elections