The MDC-Alliance, a lose political coalition of the original MDC party factions and other “one-man” opposition parties held a demonstration against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on Wednesday demanding that the institution avails the Biometric Voters Roll to them. The Alliance also demanded access to where ballot papers to be used in the July 30 harmonised elections are being printed.
The basis of the MDC Alliance’s demands stem from incredulous allegations that the ballot paper to be used in the impending elections bears some magical powers that enables it to move an X put on their presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa to that of Zanu-PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa.
As incredible as this may sound, this actually formed the crux of the MDC Alliance’s Wednesday march to ZEC offices. It is sad that a whole pact of parties can decide to coagulate on an issue that sounds so psychedelic even to any nincompoop who is yet to be appraised of how the Biometric Voting system functions.
What is apparent from the MDC Alliance’s fixation with ZEC is that there seems to be an ostensible realization that Nelson Chamisa could be facing his political Waterloo come July 30 as his “Generational Consensus” mantra has failed to gain any traction among the larger segment of the populace who view Zanu-PF’s Mnangagwa as a “pragmatic” leader able to deliver economic prosperity to a country long battered by unhelpful political rhetoric and a poisonous foreign policy.
It is also apparent to the MDC Alliance that the new political dispensation led by President Mnangagwa has robbed them of their “Mugabe Must Go” mantra that had become the mainstay of their political sustenance since 2000.
The opposition pact found itself in disarray and without a meaningful sticking electoral narrative after President Mnangagwa fashioned and projected himself as the personification of the “real change” and a reformer who is prepared to take the country in a different direction from that of his predecessor Robert Mugabe.
Much to the chagrin of the MDC Alliance, President Mnangagwa has since his ascendency to the highest office on the land pursued a reconciliatory foreign policy initiative that has seen the country re-engagement with its erstwhile adversaries. He has charmed both the international community and the local populace by opening up the democratic space and declaring that “Zimbabwe is Open for Business”.
The positive growing confidence that the international community is having with the leadership of President Mnangagwa is indeed a bitter pill to the opposition MDC Alliance which previously viewed itself as the paragon of democratic credentials and the voice of change.
ED has thus occupied or taken over that “coveted” space and this has literally thrown into disarray the opposition political parties which are failing to have a credible and sellable narrative to the electorate. The traditional funders of opposition political parties have also shifted their focus thanks to Government’s re-engagement efforts on the international arena.
Having failed to re-image or re-invent themselves in the new political dispensation and sensing a clear electoral tsunami on July 30, the MDC Alliance has come up with a strategy of simply muddling up the whole electoral environment and discrediting ZEC.
What is however apparent is the fact that the MDC Alliance has found the going tough in terms of not just having a sellable electoral message but even funding the much needed funds to propel campaigns for its President candidate and their local and parliamentary nominees.
MDC-Alliance spokesperson Professor Welshman Ncube not so long ago admitted that the alliance was not funding any of their candidates, moving away from the tradition when contestants were provided with large sums of money to fund their campaigns.
It is clear that the MDC Alliance’s greatest undoing towards the July 30 elections is not ZEC but all forms of bankruptcy- ideological, organizational and financial.
The demonstration held on Wednesday and other planned demonstrations against ZEC must thus be viewed within the context of a party bereft of ideas of how to reinvent itself in a fast changed environment. The demonstrations need to be viewed with the contest of a party clearly aware of its impending electoral defeat and is desperate to clutch on anything that would give it a veneer of relevance in the post-election period.
It is tortuous for the MDC Alliance to think that ZEC would overstep its electoral mandate by giving in to the “illegal” demands of a political outfit whose sell-by date is fast expiring. Where is the world has the running of national elections been done upon the whims of one contesting political parties?
As highlighted by ZEC chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, some of the demands being made by the MDC Alliance would entail a literal amendment of the laws governing the holding elections. The MDC Alliance therefore should have raised their concerns in parliament, a constitutional body mandate with the promulgation of laws instead of seeking to besmirch ZEC a few weeks before voting.
Another platform that the MDC Alliance could have utilized to air their grievances is within the Multi-party Liaison Committee set up by ZEC to deal with various concerns that political parties might need addressed. This is the same point raised by the Deputy Head of the European Union Observer Mission to Zimbabwe Mark Stevens who said such matters needed to have been deliberated in the multi-party liaison committee to ensure that all parties were involved and aware of the decision-making processes.
Stevens reiterated what ZEC chairperson Justice Chigumba has persistently and consistently said that everything must be conducted within the context of the law.