In 2017, I made the argument that ZANU-PF would win the 2018 harmonized elections based on three fundamental reasons.
Firstly, ZANU-PF has a more conscientized membership than any other political movement in the country, where political consciousness refers to the levels of awareness and knowledgebility around a party’s political and ideological positions among its core and potential supporters.
Secondly, the success of the Command Agriculture government initiative in the 2016/2017 agricultural season will resonate in the 2018 elections as an advantage for ZANU-PF.
This is because government has enough stored food in its silos to feed the population affected by this season’s drought. In this light, ZANU-PF will raise Command Agriculture as one of its key electoral points.
The third reason is the youth vote. Statistically, about 60-65% of the population is below forty, and between the 2013 and 2018, it is ZANU-PF that has had the most active and visible youth league among all the major political formations in the country.
Furthermore, the MDC-T’s “no reform no election” lobby which saw the country’s main opposition party boycotting by-elections since the 2013 harmonized elections until the MDC-Alliance was formed in 2017 means that for four years the country’s main opposition has lost the opportunity to conscientize the electorate on its policy and ideological positions.
Put plainly the opposition’s “no reform-no election” agenda was a disservice to itself.
Nevertheless, the key aspect as to why ZANU-PF will win in 2018 is centered on events which began in November 2018.
The Post-Mugabe era
The opposition’s main political impediment since 2000 is that they centered their politics around the “Mugabe must go” mantra, and they credited themselves as the only political party which could unseat him.
Fast-forward to January 2018, and we find ourselves in a Zimbabwe, where former President Mugabe has recently stepped down, and the credit for his deposition lies within ZANU-PF in general, and with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and VP Chiwenga in particular.
In this light, voters that previously sympathized with the MDC’s “Mugabe must go” politics in previous elections will arguably sympathize with ZANU-PF in the 2018 election, because that is the party that orchestrated his departure.
Furthermore, the MDC-Alliance’s intense succession intra-party politics will cost that party votes in 2018.
Yet the main reason why we can expect ZANU-PF to win the elections in 2018 is that there is no other candidate in the country who is able to match President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s leadership.
That observation is not based upon sentiment or speculation, but upon certain scientific analytical tools.
Here’s the thing: there is a three-tier criteria for judging leadership and authority in an individual. The best leaders in history arguably possess all three characteristics combined, while lesser leaders possess one or two of the three traits.
These three characteristics of authority are:
- Traditional authority which is legitimated by the sanctity of tradition and traditional leaders. In Zimbabwe, recently, the president of the Chief’s Council acknowledged President Mnangagwa as the rightful Zimbabwean leader consequently implying that he has the necessary traditional authority to lead the country.
- Charismatic authority which is found in a leader who inspires others by his personal history and his vision. Leaders like Joshua Nkomo and Nelson Mandela undeniably possessed this trait. In Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s economic vision is inspiring to all Zimbabweans and at this point, Zimbabweans across race and class are willing to give him the opportunity to implement his vision.
- Legal-rational authority which is authority that is possessed by an individual owing education and even the bureaucratic positions that a person holds. In our context, President Mnangagwa is a lawyer who has served in government in various ministries including defense, security and finance.
Essentially, President Mnangagwa inhibits traditional, charismatic and legal-rational authority and therefore the electorate will give him the opportunity to take the country forward.
Now, I’ve read various reports and opinion pieces arguing that President Mnangagwa should not call for elections in Zimbabwe until fundamental electoral reforms have been implemented.
This is noted.
However, after hearing President Mnangagwa reiterate in Davos that Zimbabwe is open for business, and after observing his interactions with world business leaders, I have come to the realization that international business is not going to listen to the calls of a splintered and weak opposition that is struggling to appoint a successor to its longtime leader.
Furthermore, I’ve noted that investors are primarily concerned with protection of property rights, ease of doing business, and the government’s guarantee that their investments will be safe in the country.
In this light, the protestations by opposition politicians that reforms should be implemented before elections, alongside their attempts to convince the world not to invest in Zimbabwe until electoral reforms are enacted are naïve and misplaced.
The fact is that constitutionally an election is due in Zimbabwe, and the constitution must be upheld. Electoral reforms can be implemented after the 2018 harmonized election.
At the end of the day, after observing Zimbabwe’s 2018 appearance at the World Economic Forum, two things are particularly clear to me: firstly, Zimbabwe is open for business and secondly, President Emmerson Mnangagwa and ZANU-PF will win the 2018 harmonized elections.
That is what we should expect. Nothing more, nothing less.
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