It looks like the silly season has engulfed Zimbabwe as the Southern African country heads for presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections scheduled for 30 July.
While the environment has largely been peaceful and there has been a lot of improvement in the way the country is being run, thanks to the new dispensation ushered in November last year, there has been a disturbing trend by the opposition MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa to try and trash the plebiscite.
Social media and certain sections of the media have not made the situation any better and people outside the country might believe Zimbabwe is enmeshed in a crisis of unbelievable proportions, two weeks before the elections. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
While his major opponents during the elections, President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his ZANU-PF party, have been busy on the campaign trail, Chamisa has been busy making numerous allegations, some of them spurious, against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), an independent electoral body tasked with running the elections.
Twice, he has led demonstrations in the capital Harare to pooh-pooh ZEC and the forthcoming elections. In the MDC Alliance’s view, the election will not be free and fair unless they win at all costs! In fact, the opposition party has promised to announce the results of the elections, itself a crime according to the country’s laws.
While the new dispensation and the constitution gives Chamisa and the MDC Alliance the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, we do not believe the way they are going about their business should be condoned by all right-thinking Zimbabweans who have the country at heart.
Just about everyone agrees that the situation prevailing in Zimbabwe is conducive for a free and fair election. President Mnangagwa has gone all out to ensure there is peace before, during and after the elections. He has even invited foreign observers from countries that were barred from observing the country’s elections under the previous regime.
On top of that, his campaign message has been to open up the country to business and foreign investors. In a country whose economy has been tottering on the brink over the past two decades, President Mnangagwa is making the right noises in terms of reviving economic activity.
But the same cannot be said of his nemesis, Chamisa, who has been picking numerous fights with ZEC, an electoral body he helped to create while he was a Member of Parliament. Some of the allegations are childish and border on the absurd, like the belief among opposition members that a vote cast for the MDC Alliance on the ballot paper will “migrate” to the ZANU-PF candidate, President Mnangagwa.
The opposition is therefore demanding a ballot paper that “is to their satisfaction” or else there won’t be elections in Zimbabwe! This is despite the fact that the ZEC invited them to observe the printing of the ballot papers at Fidelity Printers, a high-security facility which used to print the country’s currency.
There is also a multi-party liaison committee through which issues of concern regarding the elections must be ironed out but sadly, the MDC Alliance has not used this vehicle to raise its concerns.
Instead, Chamisa has gone a step further and is appealing to the SADC and the African Union to intervene in the election.
Call it lack of experience or naivety, we do not believe Zimbabwe’s elections warrant intervention by SADC or the AU, other than having those bodies, of which the country is a member, sending observers to validate the poll.
Contrary to assertions by the MDC Alliance, Zimbabwe is not under a crisis and neither is it coming from a war situation that warrants intervention by regional or international bodies. We believe the election in Zimbabwe is a prerogative of the people of Zimbabwe who should be allowed to freely choose a candidate or party that will safeguard their interests.
What is the opposition afraid of, we ask? What are they afraid of?
Zimbabweans must be allowed to exercise their vote freely and all contestants must be prepared to accept the result. Anything other than that would be insanity of the highest order.