All pretense, actually the lie that Zimbabwe is a democratic country, one observing its constitution and laws, was exposed on November 14, 2017. Zimbabwe’s soldiers, reacted to a long standing squabble within the governing party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, (ZANU-PF) by using state instruments to choose sides in that squabble. ZANU-PF has for the past few years been in the process of realigning itself in anticipation of 93 year old President Robert Mugabe’s incapacitation and/or death. The soldiers did not like the individuals who were getting the upper hand in that fight and decided to, as they claimed, target criminals around Mugabe who were committing crimes that “are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.” We hear from our sources within the country that some members of Mugabe’s cabinet have been arrested, even though Mugabe himself is confined to his private residence. The country’s broadcasting apparatus has been taken over by the military, and as a military spokesperson said on television, “As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.” All of this, just to restore, ostensibly, the individuals within the governing party that the soldiers liked, who were removed from power in a fight within their own party!

In a democratic country, the following questions would have been asked: “By what authority have you taken over state institutions so you can arrest people and or demote government officials? Where is the order from the attorney general or prosecutor general as per Zimbabwe’s constitution that empowered you to do this? Who and when is anyone or everybody that you say you will bring to justice be put on trial for whatever offenses you have not yet revealed?

Only in a democracy would such ‘naïve’ questions be relevant. Zimbabwe is not and never was one. Mugabe and his henchmen, regardless of whether they are now in the ascendency, arrested, fired or about to be reinstalled back into office by the soldiers, have all been about their party remaining in power so that they can protect their ill-gotten wealth. For 37 years, ZANU-PF under Mugabe and all the people and soldiers beneath him, who are now at each other’s throats, rigged elections, closed all normal political discourse, killed opposition activists, violated the constitution with impunity and arbitrary arrests, and made Zimbabweans destitute by ruining a functioning economy to upwards of 95% unemployment.

They are those suggesting that with Mugabe ‘out of the way’, Zimbabweans may come to some understanding among themselves and chart a different course from now on. One would hope so. But I have my serious doubts. ZANU-PF has never been about democracy except as led and defined by them and their narrow interests. Back in 1980 when Mugabe came to power, he stated openly that those who had not fought with him in the liberation struggle would never be allowed power in Zimbabwe. He has stayed true to his word. Does anyone really believe that his party with or without him will change from this goal?

There was hope from some quarters that with the coming 2018 national elections, Zimbabweans would vote in such large numbers to remove the 94 year old that the results would be difficult to contest. Now with his ‘younger’ lieutenants taking over, regardless of which side in their internal fight, expect the usual: election rigging, preceded by violent suppression of the opposition and a military ready and willing to use extra constitutional means to maintain their power and privilege. An opposition politician said today that the time had come for thorough reflection, national vision and leadership, and strategy. He urged all political parties in the country to “work together to reconstruct our country from the ashes.” I urge ZANU-PF to reflect on this. They are the ones that must look straight into that mirror.

4 Responses to “ZIMBABWE!”

  1. Nadine Sahyoun says:

    Depressing analysis. Will the election still happen? Is there any hope to this new development?

  2. Judy Phillips says:

    So good to have your overview of the current affair in Zimbabwe, Handel, as we are certainly not getting the full picture from even NPR over here. Are there any popular (and not corrupt!) contenders if there were to be a fair election?

  3. Handel says:

    With the latest developments, no one knows for sure what will happen with the elections, scheduled for sometime in 2018. If they actually take place as scheduled, the opposition needs to demand tight guarantees and openly observable procedures for these elections to be credible. Otherwise they will be cheated again. Interesting point is that the same military that seems to have overthrown Mugabe are the ones who urged him in 2008 to nullify the results of that election which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change had won handily.

  4. Handel says:

    The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has always fielded well qualified candidates for parliament and the Presidency. They have been immensely popular with the public and can win any elections in Zimbabwe if they are free, fair and peaceful. Mugabe and ZANU-PF have never conducted a free, fair and peaceful election in that country. Zimbabweans go to the polls in impressive numbers at every election but find their votes nullified by the ZANU-PF rigging machine.

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