2018: What Zimbabwe can learn from Gabon

Recently, I assisted a friend of mine with his application for a visa to Gabon.

 

During the process, I did a fair amount of research on the political economy of Gabon, which, it turns out, is one of the most prosperous countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

It is also one of the few African countries that requires Zimbabweans to apply for visas before entry.

 

Here are some interesting statistics about Gabon.

 

Gabon became fully independent from France on 15 July 1960. It is a small sparsely populated country with a population of 1.7 million people with a surface area of 268,000 square kilometers with forests covering 85% of the territory.

 

Gabon is an upper-middle-income country. It is the fifth largest oil producer in Africa, and it has experienced strong economic growth over the past decade, driven by oil and manganese production.

 

Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times higher than most sub-Saharan African nations, but because of high income inequality, a large proportion of the population remains poor. Nevertheless, Gabon has a per capita income of approximately USD$3,000 which is high by African standards

 

It also has a GDP of $14.47 billion, and 28% unemployment. It exports about $5.078 billion worth of goods per annum and imports about $3.224 billion worth of goods per annum.

 

It is ostensibly a well-managed and stable economy.

 

However, more interesting than anything else are the politics of Gabon, where Omar Bongo ruled since 1967 until his death on 7 May 2009. He ruled Gabon for 42 years.

 

Similar to other countries that have had long-time leaders (including Zimbabwe which was led by Robert Mugabe for 37 years) Omar Bongo’s critics describe his rule as characterized by autocracy, corruption and nepotism.

 

Critics also say that Omar Bongo mastered the extraordinary ability to sideline his rivals and ensure that no competitor, either individually or institutionally, could construct a power base to challenge him during his reign.

 

Nevertheless, after he passed on, Gabon regressed from 42 years of relative stability to instability.

 

He was succeeded by his son, Ali Bongo who narrowly won the disputed elections of 2009, and in 2016 he won the election by a slight majority of 50.66% of the vote against 47.24% of the vote which was garnered by his rival Jean Ping.

 

Ironically, Ali Bongo’s narrow victory in 2016 saw him delaying parliamentary elections in his country due to an alleged “shortage of funds.”

 

This is interesting, because Gabon is considered to be one of the top ten richest countries in Africa, alongside Seychelles, South Africa, Botswana and Mauritius.

 

What can ZANU-PF and MDC-T learn from Gabon?

 

Clearly, after the 42-year reign of Omar Bongo came to an end, the stability of Gabon and Bongo’s Gabonese Democratic Party (GDP) were affected.

 

While Omar Bongo was a master tactician who had a unique ability which enabled him to unite his party and co-opt his rivals simultaneously, the slight majority of 50.66% enjoyed by his successor Ali Bongo shows us that the successor of a long-time leader is not always as popular as his predecessor.

 

In Zimbabwe, a lesson can be drawn here by both the ruling ZANU-PF party and the main opposition MDC-T.

 

We recently saw Robert Mugabe step down as ZANU-leader and we suffered the death of Morgan Tsvangirai who had led the MDC-T for 18 years.

 

Now with Zimbabwe’s harmonized elections expected in July 2018, the sentiment on the ground is that Emmerson Mnangagwa is not as popular as Robert Mugabe was in ZANU-PF, and that Nelson Chamisa is not as popular as Dr. Morgan Tsvangirai was in the MDC-T.

 

In ZANU-PF it was actually the former first lady Grace Mugabe who was grossly unpopular among party members, and she is largely blamed for catalysing the events that led to the former president’s fall from power in November 2017.

 

Nevertheless, events around the primary elections in both ZANU-PF and the MDC-T show that there are serious fault lines within Zimbabwe’s two main political platforms.

 

For instance, after initially losing the ZANU-PF primary election for the Norton constituency, Chris Mutsvangwa (who is adviser to the Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa) apparently declared that “It is inconceivable that the President will win [the 2018 election}.”

 

Furthermore, the incumbent Norton legislator Themba Mliswa publicly stated that for ZANU-PF the 2018 election will be characterized by “bhora musango”, that is, protest votes and electoral apathy among the party supporters.

 

It goes without saying that in 2008, ZANU-PF’s presidential candidate Robert Mugabe lost the first round of the vote to his MDC-T rival Morgan Tsvangirai owing to “bhora-musango,”

 

The consequent 2008 run-off was characterized by intimidation and violence and its outcome was internationally disputed and ultimately this led to the formation of a Government of National Unity (GNU) comprising of both ZANU-PF and MDC-T leaders in 2009.

 

As is it stands today, ZANU-PF’s primary elections have been characterized by low voter turnout, disunity, and accusations and counter-accusations of factionalism. These are early signs of “bhora-musango.”

 

In this light it seems highly improbable that ZANU-PF will win the 61% it achieved at presidential level in 2013, or the two-thirds majority it achieved at parliamentary level in the same year.

 

More likely than not, the 2018 Zimbabwean election will see President Mnangagwa win by a slight majority similar to Gabonese president’s Ali Bongo’s 2016 slight majority of 50.66%.

 

There is also something else of particular importance.

 

If ZANU-PF fails to retain its two-thirds majority in 2018, this will complicate its legislative agenda going forward, as the party will not have the quorum to amend the constitution, essentially meaning that post 2018 elections, ZANU-PF will have less power than it did when it was voted into power in 2013.

 

This is a notable fact, given that as of 2023, constitutionally, the two vice-presidents of the country will no longer be appointed, but will have to be elected as presidential running mates.

 

Consequently, this means that failing to win a two-thirds parliamentary majority will complicate post-2018 politics for ZANU-PF for two reasons.

 

Firstly, it is more likely than not that come 2023, the Zimbabwean diaspora (comprising approximately four million people) will vote in that election.

 

This will adversely affect ZANU-PF because under the current circumstances, ZANU-PF will not win the two-thirds parliamentary majority in 2018 that it needs to amend the constitution in order to prevent the diaspora from voting in 2023, or to change the clause that stipulates Vice Presidents will be elected and not appointed as of 2023.

 

Secondly, in 2018, about 65% of Zimbabwe’s voters are below forty years old, and youthful voters often (not always) support youthful leaders. Come 2023, approximately 75% of voters will be below forty, further complicating things for ZANU-PF which has an average age of 66 among its top five leaders.

 

The situation is no better in the MDC-T which split after the death of Dr. Tsvangirai into a faction led by Nelson Chamisa and another led by Thokazane Khupe. Up to date, the two factions are battling in court over which is the legitimate MDC-T and who is the legitimate leader of the MDC-T.

 

Also, recently Jesse Majome- a well-respected lawyer and MDC-T legislator for Harare West- has chosen to run for Harare West constituency as an independent candidate citing irregularities in the MDC-T’s primary election procedures.

 

As a result, it is clear that like ZANU-PF, the MDC-T is much more divided, and factionalized in 2018 than it was in the 2013 elections.

 

The Prospect of a Government of national Unity post 2018 election

 

Wherever they occur, elections should be free fair and credible so as to show the world that whoever seizes power post-elections has the unanimous mandate of the people to govern the country as its legitimate leader.

 

It is no surprise then, that after achieving a controversial and slight majority of 50.66% in the 2016 election, Gabonese President Ali Bongo delayed parliamentary elections.

 

Clearly, he is aware his slight majority demonstrates that the nation is deeply divided.

 

Accordingly, since 2016 he has avoided parliamentary elections, and has instead chosen to appoint Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet as the prime minister of Gabon, and has tasked him to form a Government of National Unity comprising members of opposition parties in key posts.

 

Perhaps this is a viable option for Zimbabwe post-2018 elections, especially given the that president Emmerson Mnangagwa is likely to win the presidency, but only by a slight majority.

 

Also, ZANU-PF is unlikely to win a two-thirds majority at parliamentary level.

 

As a result, in order to substantially gain the trust of Zimbabweans and international investors alike, it will take ZANU-PF and the MDC-T to come together and share power for a period of time, in the same way that they did during the 2009-2013 Government of National Unity.

 

 

Tau Tawengwa

 

Executive Director

 

Email

zimrays@gmail.com

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Zimbabwe 2018 Elections: Power versus Popularity

 

As we approach the July 2018 elections, I have been hearing more and more debate among Zimbabweans about which presidential candidate is better than the other, or which political party is best for the country.

 

There are quite a few arguments circulating particularly on social media. I will highlight a few here.

 

The first is that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and ZANU-PF do not have what it takes to win the election. That is a misconception and I will attempt to show why in this article.

 

The second is that Nelson Chamisa has a real chance of attaining presidential power in 2018.

 

This too is a commonly held misconception, and in this article I will attempt to demonstrate how the field we commonly refer to as politics is a field that focuses more on attaining and retaining of power, than it does on popularity.

 

Essentially, if politics was about popularity, perhaps Hillary Clinton would have been the American president today.

 

ZANU-PF the Power Broker

 

“And here comes in the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both; but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.” Niccolo Machiavelli (1469–1527).  The Prince.

 

When I was younger, I used to think that politics was about good debate at the dinner table, loud arguments, stubbornness, and popularity.

 

Now, after years under the mentorship of my father and other national leaders, I have realized that politics is more about what is unsaid than what is said, more about the covert than the overt, and more about power than popularity.

 

When I consider ZANU-PF and its brand of politics, the Zimbabwean 1980 general election comes to mind.

 

After a protracted bush war that lasted almost 15 years, by the time that the Lancaster House conference began in 1979, it was clear to all and sundry that the Patriotic Front guerrillas had effectively captured most of the rural hearts and minds.

 

While some historians have argued that the pre-Lancaster, “internal settlement” showed that Muzorewa was somewhat popular (with an estimated national support of between 50 and 63 percent of the population), the relentless guerilla power of the Patriotic Front overwhelmed Muzorewa’s assumed popularity.

 

As a result, Ian Smith and Bishop Muzorewa had no choice but to invite ZAPU and ZANU to the negotiating table.

 

Come 1980, two critical factors played a part in ensuring that ZANU won the election by an outright majority.

 

The first was that ZANLA guerrillas remained armed and in the bush during elections having declared that they would continue fighting if at all ZANU PF did not win the election.

 

Secondly, given that ZANLA forces had captured the hearts and minds of the rural populace, by the time that elections arrived ZANLA commissars had adequately conscientized the rural populace using a mixture of the Machiavellian “fear and love” principle.

 

In the end ZANU-PF emerged as the outright winner of the 1980 elections, perhaps because of its popularity, but more so because of its power.

 

You see, since the guerilla days, ZANU-PF has positioned itself as the main power-broker in Zimbabwe.

 

In fact ZANU-PF’s role as key power broker in the country was demonstrated again by events in November 2017.

 

While the late Dr Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T had gallantly fought for leadership renewal in Zimbabwe for the best part of seventeen years, he never actually managed to achieve that end.

 

It took events encircled around Operation Restore Legacy to achieve what the late Dr Tsvangirai had attempted for nearly twenty years, despite his popularity.

 

In essence, it took ZANU-PF in its role as national power broker to introspect and achieve leadership renewal in Zimbabwe, and not the popularity of opposition politicians.

 

How did they do it? They used hard and soft power simultaneously.

 

Again, I assert: politics is about power, not popularity.

 

Why ZANU-PF will win in 2018

 

In real terms, the position of ZANU-PF as power broker in Zimbabwe’s political economy remains and it is inconceivable that will change in the short term.

 

While the Machiavellian principle that “it is better to be feared than loved” still applies, the consistency of the ZANU-PF’s benevolence will also play a role in its 2018 electoral victory.

 

For instance the ZANU-PF government has consistently  distributed inputs to the rural populace under the Presidential Inputs Scheme.

 

Furthermore, the ZANU-PF government’s assistance of farmers through command agriculture also demonstrates that the governing party has a benevolent side, and this will play a significant role in winning votes for ZANU-PF in 2018.

 

Recent assistance forwarded to doctors, nurses and teachers in the form of pay increases also demonstrates ZANU-PF’s benevolence, and this too will play a role in winning votes for the party.

 

However, more importantly than anything else, ZANU-PF will win in 2018 because the main opposition in the form of the MDC-Alliance is relying solely on its self-assuming popularity as adequate political capital to win the elections and take power. This is a misconception.

 

In fact, that’s the same misconception that was held by Bishop Muzorewa in 1980, Dr Tsvangirai in 2013 and now Nelson Chamisa in 2018.

 

In simple terms, politics is about power, much more than popularity.

 

Conclusion

 

While in the UK, it is reported that Nelson Chamisa had this to say: “We expect Britain and the EU to speak for free and fair elections. There’s a very disturbing trend in the context of the British government in Zimbabwe.

 

“We have seen that there has been a bit of a shift on the part of the British government in terms of focusing more on political stability and trade and commerce at the expense of democracy…We’re seeing the inclination to align with one political party against another. That is disturbing, particularly in terms of the issue of just setting the basic standard for free and fair elections.”

 

That statement summarizes the political difference between the MDC- T and ZANU-PF.

 

Clearly, the MDC-T has always relied on western empathy and sanctions to achieve its political ends. In the above statement Nelson Chamisa again shows that he is maintaining his predecessor’s politics.

 

However, what Mr. Chamisa doesn’t seem to understand is that Britain is reeling from Brexit, and is consequently looking for partners globally that will boost trade.

 

In summary, the British political-economy as a whole is much more important to Britain than the narrow political interests of the MDC-T.

 

Furthermore, it is now clear that Nelson Chamisa does not have the courage to attempt to boycott the 2018 elections, as this will cause a split in the MDC-T similar to the split that occurred in 2005.

 

Also, neither Nelson Chamisa, The MDC-Alliance nor anyone else in Zimbabwe’s opposition has the power to cause the so-called “national shutdown” that they are threatening post-elections.

 

The fact is that if  Chamisa’s calls for a nationwide strike after elections are ignored, it will not only show that he is not as popular as he thinks he is, but also that he is powerless.

 

Ultimately, the principle remains, politics is not about popularity, politics is about power.

 

Tau Tawengwa

 

Executive Director

 

Email

zimrays@gmail.com

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2018 elections: Factionalism, Tribalism in ZANU PF structures

 

 

“….Saka iniwo ndakatumwaa ne magamatox. Magamatox akati nyaya yaVaChamisa ndochaiyo… magamatox ndo aizikanwa seZANU, akabva akaita imwe chikamu chonzi G40… gamatox 40 iri, raiti kuti toda munhu ane 40 years kuti atonge, zvino 40 years dzaka bata VaChamisa….”

 

 

( “….And I too was sent by the Gamatox faction. The Gamatox faction say that Chamisa is the real deal… the Gamatox faction is what was really known as ZANU, and then it evolved into what became known as the G40 faction… the Gamatox-40 faction said they wanted people who are 40 years and below, and now here is Mr Chamisa who is 40 years old….”)

 

 

These were the utterances made by Zimbabwe People First Opposition leader Kudakwashe Bhaskiti during an MDC-Alliance rally which took place in Chiweshe on Sunday 25 March 2018.

 

 

Many opposition leaders addressed that sizeable and largely youthful crowd before Nelson Chamisa took to the podium.

 

 

Some of the leaders who attended that rally are: Mr Tendai Biti, Retired Brigadier General Mutambara and Professor Welshman Ncube.

 

 

All in all, the entire event- particularly Mr Bhaskiti’s soliloquy- was a depiction of what should be taken as a serious political warning by  ZANU-PF if that party wants achieve the electoral victory that it envisages.

 

 

I will explain why in this article.

 

 

The strategy of the MDC-Alliance

 

 

After the 2013 elections, many of us thought that the Zimbabwean opposition was politically dead, and that it wouldn’t resurrect. This was especially true after the post-2013 MDC-T split which saw Mr Tendai Biti and Mr Elton Mangoma forming their own political parties.

 

 

However, not long after that, ZANU-PF’s internal factional wars gave a lifeline to what was an all but dead opposition.

 

 

After its 2014 congress ZANU-PF’s former Vice President Dr Joice Mujuru and many of her supporters including Kudakwashe Bhaskiti were fired from the party.

 

 

Immediately after that, Dr Joice Mujuru formed her own party, and straightaway engaged in coalition talks with Dr Morgan Tsvangirai. As a result, in December 2016, opposition parties met in Cape Town South Africa and that is where the outline of the current MDC-Alliance coalition was made.

 

 

Many analysts mistakenly overlooked that Cape Town indaba as simply another meaningless talk-shop where the guests would be treated to good food and endless pina coladas .

 

 

Yet, there are three pivotal themes that emerged out of those Cape-Town deliberations that are manifesting in the MDC-Alliance’s campaigns today.

 

 

The first thing is the principle of wielding the strongest candidate at every level- that is, at presidential, constituency and ward levels.

 

 

If the opposition had not made the decision to unite, then its candidates would have been scattered and this would have split the opposition vote at ward, constituency and Presidential levels.

 

 

A splintered opposition was never going to stand a chance against a united ZANU-PF.

 

For that reason, the coalition talks in Cape Town were a well-funded, and calculated effort to patch the rifts between the opposition parties and to ensure that come 2018, they would yield their strongest presidential candidate and also strong candidates at constituency and ward levels.

 

 

They have now achieved that goal and furthermore, having recognized how divisive primary elections were within their ranks in the past, they decided not to have primary elections in the MDC-Alliance.

 

 

The second theme that emerged out of the Cape Town talks is the principle that democratic political formations must contain diverse leaders from diverse races, tribes, classes, professions and regions.

 

 

Such a diverse group of leaders will strategically represent  the coalition at presidential, constituency and ward levels.

 

 

That is why today, at every single MDC-Alliance rally they allow professors, lawyers, youths, a retired brigadier general ,pastors, women, farmers and even former ZANU-PF leaders to address the audience.

 

 

The goal is to create the impression that the coalition represents every Zimbabwean, across regional, professional, and political lines and this ultimately creates a strong impression of cohesion and solidarity in the MDC-Alliance.

 

 

Finally, The Cape-Town meetings of 2016, and 2017 took cognizance of the bloodletting that has occurred in ZANU-PF through factionalism. First it was the 2014 “Gamatox” purges, followed by the recent “G-40” purges.

 

 

While it is true that only 11 MPs were expelled from ZANU-PF since November 2017, there has, however, been an ongoing silent and secretive campaign conducted by political certain opportunists and saboteurs within ZANU-PF structures aimed at frustrating sitting parliamentarians by de-campaigning them and labelling them as ‘members of G-40.”

 

 

As a result of this campaign of sabotage within ZANU-PF, the MDC-Alliance has deliberately packaged a political message that is intended to entice voters that have been frustrated and purged during the “Gamatox” and “G-40” purges.

 

 

That is a pivotal part of the opposition’s 2018 campaign strategy and it is directed at grass-root ZANU-PF supporters. It is a strategy that is currently working.

 

 

That is the reason why we hear Kudakwashe Bhaskiti today saying that “Gamatox” became “Gamatox-40” and that “Gamatox-40” has put its weight behind a 40 year old Chamisa. That message is not random- it is well-calculated and intentional.

 

 

ZANU-PF Factionalism, Tribalism

 

 

Personally, I give credit to President Emmerson Mnangagwa. For the last few months it has been refreshing and encouraging to see Zimbabwe represented at Davos, and at other business platforms such as the CEO Forum. I, for one, am excited that Zimbabwe has re-opened for business.

 

 

Also to his credit, at the ZANU-PF extraordinary congress in December 2017, President Mnangagwa stated that “my presidency should not be perceived as the rise in fortunes of a region, or a tribe or a totem, no. My presidency is about a united ZANU-PF, a national party with a national outlook.”

 

 

He went further to say that “let us reassert discipline, order and harmony in the party, and put behind us victimization and witch-hunting of the past.”

 

 

In light of these statements, one wonders why there are ongoing silent purges in ZANU-PF, particularly at cell, district and provincial levels.

 

 

According to reports, several ZANU-PF members have been denied the opportunity to submit their CVs by provincial officials on the basis that they were “Mugabe’s people.”

 

 

If ZANU-PF is sincere in its calls for unity then it should expeditiously stop the machinations of mischievous malcontents who have been persisting in their short-sighted and divisive chicanery.

 

 

The danger of tribalism is that it  is a catalyst of conflict, often of a bloody nature in the African context. It must be stopped wherever it rears its head.

 

 

One example occurred recently in Epworth, where a clique aligned to certain ZANU-PF individuals who are eyeing that constituency reportedly pelted the sitting MP with stones while she was addressing a local government meeting.

 

 

The allegation is that her ZANU-PF rivals are orchestrating violence against her in attempt to frustrate her into not contesting in the primary elections.

 

 

Furthermore, in other parts of Harare and in other provinces, there are reports that certain youth league leaders are conniving with saboteurs to frustrate sitting MPs and Senators into not contesting in the party’s primary elections.

 

 

Of course, if the surge of tribalism persists in ZANU-PF, then the consequences are likely to reflect at the 2018 polls.

 

 

Tribalism and factionalism does not only cause division in a political party.

 

 

These twin evils also cause frustration and apathy among a supporters, and in ZANU-PF’s case, this is true at provincial, district, branch and cell levels.

 

 

It’s simple maths. Zimbabwe has 10 provinces and 59 districts. Let’s make a low estimate and assume that as a result of these acts of tribalism, factionalism frustration among party members occurs, and 5000 votes in each  district are lost to apathy or to protest on election day.

 

 

That amounts to 295000 votes countrywide , a sizeable number that is too big to ignore.

 

 

You see, given these reported incidents of sabotage aimed at frustrating candidates in ZANU-PF, the opposition MDC-Alliance is deliberately putting the likes of Kudakwashe Bhaskiti forward at its rallies in attempt to lure frustrated ZANU-PF grass-root supporters and convince them to vote for the opposition.

 

 

So far, that strategy is working.

 

 

If ZANU-PF wants to win in a truly free and fair election in 2018, then that party would need to expeditiously arrest the surge of tribalism and factionalism that is currently decimating its lower structures.

 

 

Tau Tawengwa

 

Executive Director

 

Email

zimrays@gmail.com

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Zimbabwe 2018 Elections: Voter Behavior and Demographics

 

The 2018 election is perhaps the most interesting election in Zimbabwe’s history so far, for a number of reasons.

 

Firstly, It is the first election in the country’s history that does not include Mr Robert Mugabe on the ballot paper.

 

Secondly,in this election the predominance of voters are below the age of forty- about sixty percent in fact.

 

For that reason, many analysts and politicians are putting their money on youthful candidates prevailing at ward, constituency and national levels.

 

The overall logic that youthful candidates are likely to prevail because the majority of voters are youthful is understandable, but misguided all the same.

 

The fact is that elections are complex processes, and voter patterns and behaviors are complex as well.

 

A number of factors come into play when attempting to deduce voter patterns within the various demographics in the forth-coming elections.

 

I will attempt to discuss some of those factors here.

 

Age and Region

 

Nearly 5.3 million Zimbabweans have registered to vote in the 2018 elections.

 

This is comparable with 5.8 million who registered to vote in the 2013 harmonized elections.

 

Within the 5.3 million registered voters, there are three subgroups theoretically speaking.

 

These are: 1) “non-voters” (those who are registered but never have voted) 2) “occasional voters” and 3) “frequent voters”, that is, those who vote in every election.

 

It is often the case that the frequent voters are the elderly in society (or the forty percent who are over forty years old) and this group consists of people who have a sense of ‘civic duty’ and citizenship.

 

The “non-voters” who have registered to vote for the first time are an erratic group.

 

This is because it is not guaranteed that first time voters will spend election-day in queues waiting for their turn to vote.

 

In fact there is a high chance that many youthful first-time voters will treat election day as a holiday and take the day off.

 

It is indisputable that the figure of 5.3 million registered voters was arrived at over a period of years.

 

therefore it is highly unlikely that 5.3 million voters will turn out at polling stations on election day,especially considering that the 2013 harmonized elections saw only 59 percent of registered voters turning up to vote on election day.

 

Furthermore, the generally held ‘rational model’ for judging voter participation suggests that individuals will decide to vote when the benefits of voting exceeds the cost of voting.

 

This means that voters will participate in elections when they feel they have something tangible to gain, or lose.

 

In light of this we are likely to experience a high voter turnout in agricultural and rural areas, which consist largely of people  who have benefited from land reform or agricultural inputs.

 

These people will turn out in their numbers because they have something tangible to gain or lose and are therefore likely to vote.

 

However the urban areas are perhaps more likely to experience voter apathy because of a lack of tangible benefits for voting.

 

It is likely that Harare Metropolitan and Bulawayo Metropolitan will suffer from voter apathy among first time voters.

 

Gender

 

While many analysts are putting forward the argument that sixty percent of voters are below the age of forty, they are forgetting to mention that about fifty-four percent of our national population consists of women.

 

This means that we can assume that fifty four percent of registered voters (even those below the age of forty) are women, and this will have a significant impact on the electoral outcome.

 

Research from different parts of the world reveals that women vote at higher rates than men.

 

Furthermore It is also my perception that a significant number of women voters relate to women candidates irrespective political affiliation, primarily because women leaders understand issues relating to women far much more than men.

 

For this reason, we may find that women voters may prefer to choose female candidates at ward, constituency and presidential levels in the 2018 elections.

 

Such a scenario will see the Mujuru-Khupe alliance secure a significant number of votes in the forthcoming elections.

 

 

Political Affiliation

 

I think it’s fair to say that historically in Zimbabwe, the members of a political party will automatically vote for their party.

 

Of course, there have been incidents where this did not happen such as the 2008 ‘bhora musango’ campaign which saw traditional ZANU-PF members voting for their ward and constituency candidates, but not for their presidential candidates.

 

In 2018, I do not foresee a ‘bhora-musango’ scenario.

 

However, the MDC-T political infighting that has occurred over the last few months may see the Chamisa led MDC-Alliance lose a significant number of votes among party members, particularly in the Matebeleland regions.

 

Nevertheless, ultimately, this election will be determined not so much by the popularity of the Presidential candidates, but rather by the popularity of the ward and parliamentary candidates as these are the people who represent their parties in the various communities on a daily basis.

 

As things stand, it still seems as though ZANU-PF has the upper hand, particularly in rural Zimbabwe.

 

Tau Tawengwa

 

Executive Director

 

Email

zimrays@gmail.com

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The Politics of the MDC-T

 

The former Prime Minster and long-time leader of the MDC-T opposition party has been laid to rest after an arduous battle with cancer.

 

 

Indeed he fought a good political fight in his time and will certainly be remembered in the history of Zimbabwe as one of the country’s leading lights, particularly in the post-independence and post land-reform phases of our history.

 

 

However, his greatest shortfall (as with most African leaders) is that he failed to resolve the succession issue in his party timeously.

 

 

Put plainly he did not have in place a succession plan by the time of his departure.

 

 

I have argued before, and I will state again here that clear succession plans should be explicitly put in place in every institution, especially if the institution intends to ensure that there is continuity after its leader departs.

 

 

This is true in families, family businesses, corporates, political parties, and any other form of organization.

 

 

Every institution must have a clear and explicit formal succession plan.

 

 

Having said that, recent events in the MDC-T serve as examples of how things go terribly bad when succession is not handled well in politics.

 

 

Zeal without Knowledge

 

 

Proverbs 19:12 reads “desire without knowledge is not good how much more will hasty feet miss the way!”

 

 

Like many Zimbabweans, I marvelled at the haste with which Nelson Chamisa and his faction anointed themselves as heirs to Dr. Tsvangirai’s throne almost immediately after Morgan Tsvangirai’s death was announced.

 

 

In fact before the late opposition party leader’s body had arrived at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International airport, Chamisa and crew had already called for a National Council meeting which hastily elevated Chamisa to the position of acting President for a 12 month period.

 

 

Immediately after that National Council meeting, pastor Chamisa addressed a song-and dance rally outside of Harvest House during which he declared himself leader to the unsuspecting and impressionable crowds of the MDC-T political laity who were innocently waiting to hear about Dr Tsvangirai’s funeral arrangements.

 

 

Instead, they were mischievously misled into believing that Nelson Chamisa was their new leader.

 

 

Yet, by calling for the 14 February 2018 meeting at Harvest House, and furthermore by addressing his self-anointing rally on the same day, Nelson Chamisa showed the world his unbridled desire to be president of the MDC-T, and his willingness to exercise haste in order to achieve those ends, yet foolishly so.

 

 

If Nelson Chamisa is as popular as he assumes he is, then why couldn’t he wait a few days for Dr. Tsvangirai to be buried before engaging in his succession politics?

 

 

It is my view that the rally held by Nelson Chamisa’s faction on February 14 outside of Harvest House was the major cause for the violent episodes that we saw during Dr. Tsvangirai’s funeral.

 

 

The fact is that the crowds that he addressed on 14 February consisted of youths, undoubtedly inflamed on chibuku, bronco and cheap liquor, who then took pastor Chamisa’s populism as gospel and that is where the danger began.

 

 

 

That was his first mistake.

 

 

Violence is Inexcusable

 

 

We owe our children – the most vulnerable citizens in any society – a life free from violence and fear.Nelson Mandela

 

 

In 2014, the then MDC-T deputy treasury-general, Elton Mangoma and secretary-general, Tendai Biti were assaulted by a group of party youths for allegedly calling for leadership renewal in the party.

 

 

At the time they said they were attacked by “a drunken mob” and it was alleged that Nelson Chamisa was not far from the violence when Mangoma et al got thumped.

 

 

You see the reason why nobody believes Nelson Chamisa’s statements attempting to distance himself from the violent episodes at Dr. Tsvangirai’s funeral, is because he has been suspected of instigating violence before.

 

 

In fact a 2014 report of the Elton Mangoma related mayhem stated that “a four-minute, six seconds security video taken during the melee… saw Mangoma beaten up with punches and slaps all over his body by party youths, places Chamisa smack dab in the center of the incensed crowd, a few minutes before the assault.

 

 

“Standing amongst the crowd, which was singing and chanting, baying for Mangoma’s blood, snapshots from the video show Chamisa relating to some of the gathered youths.”

 

 

You see, given his reported participation in Mangoma’s 2014 attack, it is difficult to believe that Chamisa was not involved in the violence at Dr. Tsvangirai’s funeral, or in Dr. Khupe’s 2017 attack for that matter.

 

 

It is also therefore difficult to believe his statements distancing himself from the recent drama.

 

 

Given the intra-party violence that has occurred in the MDC-T in recent times at the alleged instigation of Chamisa, firstly against Mangoma and Biti and later against Khupe, one could be forgiven for thinking that pastor Chamisa is thuggish.

 

 

 

Apparently they charged “Chamisa, Chamisa” as they charged at a retreating Dr. Khupe.

 

 

All this unethical tomfoolery brings to mind the saying “You can take the homeboy out of Kuwadzana East, but you can’t take Kuwadzana East out of the homeboy.”

 

 

For a long time the nation has given Nelson Chamisa the benefit of the doubt, saying he’s youthful and educated.

 

 

However based upon recent events, it would seem he’s also power-hungry and violent.

 

 

His haste and desire for power have made him miss the way. That’s unbecoming of the political pastor.

 

 

My own view is that Nelson Chamisa is politically immature, and cannot capably fit the shoes of the late Dr. Morgan Tsvangirai. First it was his Trump and 15billion debacle and now this.

 

 

I think it is safe to say that Nelson Chamisa a local leader that should be confined to Kuwadzana East. He is not a national leader and in fact he has a lot of growing up to do politically.

 

 

Furthermore, my perception is that the constitutional leader of the MDC-T is Dr. Khupe, and she should be in charge of the party until the next congress.

 

 

Also, it would seem that Nelson Chamisa’s shenanigans have discredited him as a potential leader of the MDC-Alliance, and it is probable that Dr. Joice Mujuru will soon become the new face of the coalition.

 

Tau Tawengwa

 

Executive Director

 

 

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Zimbabwe 2018 election: Ethics versus Prosperity

 

On Thursday 15 February 2018, I was part of the crowd outside Harvest House in Harare listening to Nelson Chamisa and crew politicking, and appearing to anoint themselves as Dr Morgan Tsvangirai’s successors a few hours after his passing, and days before he was laid to rest.

 

 

What many people thought would be memorial rally in honour of the former Prime minister at Harvest House, turned out to be a rally which saw Nelson Chamisa’s faction declaring themselves as the rightful heirs to the MDC-T throne.

 

 

The event seemed distasteful to many who attended desiring to honour Morgan Tsvangirai, and not to participate in MDC-T factionalism.

 

 

That matter got me thinking about whether or not our politicians still consider ethics in politics, or do they seek power at all costs?

 

 

Interestingly, in town on the same day, I overheard a conversation between two youthful gentleman, during which one said to another “kana zvisingasungise muZimbabwe hazvina mari (if the business you are doing in Zimbabwe is not illegal it is not profitable.”

 

 

This made me ask if we, as a citizens still consider ethics in our day to day lives, or are we out for prosperity at all costs?

 

 

All this made me recall a research project I steered in a Pentecostal church in Pretoria some years ago.

 

 

The aim of that research was to determine what social benefits the church’s brand of ‘prosperity gospel’ had for the wider Pretoria community.

 

 

After an insightful period of twelve months, the research was concluded, and it was found that the church’s “prosperity gospel” did indeed inspire members of the congregation to aspire for prosperity and consequently to engage in various forms of enterprise and ingenuity in attempt to achieve that end.

 

 

Yet, one fundamental question kept on arising: do the church members pursue wealth using moral methods? Or do they attempt to achieve prosperity by any means necessary, irrespective of morality?

 

 

Put plainly, in our contemporary society is morality still important in the pursuit of wealth?

 

 

In the course of that research, I found that many church members engaged in dubious practices in their pursuit of wealth.

 

 

This was not surprising, because that particular church was an inner-city congregation located in an area well known for unemployment, informal sector trade, violent crime, substance abuse, and prostitution.

 

 

In fact some members of that church were rumoured to be hard criminals, yet they faithfully attended church, paid tithes and offerings and believed with all their hearts that they too could attain the ‘blessings’ of prosperity.

 

 

That old research seems relevant approach the harmonized elections.

 

 

 

Politics and Ethics

 

 

Prosperity is a key theme of political party manifestos at election time.

 

 

The various political manifestos will propose how they intend to bring prosperity to the country, and improve the lives of our people.

 

 

Already, we have heard politicians pronounce how they were promised 15billion.

 

 

Such pronouncements beg the question: do our politicians consider national ethics when they make us promises about national prosperity?

 

 

The difference between ethics and morals, is that morals are subjective and usually inspired by an individual’s religious beliefs, while ethics are commonly recognised despite an individual’s religion.

 

 

For instance, a follower of traditional religion may believe that polygamy is moral, while a Christian may believe that it is in fact immoral.

 

 

Yet, from an ethical perspective, both the tradionalist and the Christian will agree that spousal abuse is illegal and therefore unethical, despite their contrasting moral standpoints.

 

 

While morals deal with people’s personal beliefs, ethics refer to general codes of conduct.

 

 

Now, since the year 2000 Zimbabwe has suffered economic decay that has affected citizens across political persuasions.

 

 

Yet, ironically, one could argue that the nation has become morally stronger since 2000, despite our economic regression.

 

 

This is because in the midst of our economic backslide, our country has seen vast growth in the religiosity of our citizens with ninety percent of Zimbabweans belonging to Protestant or apostolic religions in 2018 as compared to sixty percent in 2000.

 

 

Yet being moral doesn’t make you ethical, and perhaps we can agree that since 2000 corruption has become endemic in Zimbabwean society.

 

 

In fact recent Transparency International reports state that Zimbabwe is the most corrupt country in Southern Africa, and one of the most corrupt countries in Africa- this despite our intense religiosity.

 

 

We are the most religious (and perhaps moral) country in Southern Africa, yet we are also the most corrupt, and therefore unethical.

 

 

We have become a people that wholeheartedly pursues power, profit and prosperity without considering ethics.

 

 

We are a conflicted nation.

 

 

Nevertheless the 2018 elections provides a golden opportunity for our politicians to begin the process of reintroducing ethics to our people.

 

 

So far, I commend president Emmerson Mnangagwa for his consistent calls for investment and his reiterations that Zimbabwe is open for business, while simultaneously saying that the new dispensation has a ‘zero-tolerance approach’ to corruption.

 

 

This is a bold first step towards reigniting an ethical society.

 

 

If government continues to take firm action against corruption and other unscrupulous behaviours, then people will think twice before engaging in unethical conduct.

 

 

In this light it was encouraging to see the flamboyant Wicknell Chivayo appearing before parliament this week.

 

 

In the past, Chivayo’s open profligacy and social media pronouncements had embittered many citizens.

 

 

For instance in April 2016 he reportedly posted a picture on social media with the caption: “Had dinner in Dubai yesterday with my mother (Grace Mugabe) and my little brother (Robert Jnr).

 

 

“I love my parents…Mungandi dii? Hapana kana zvamunondiita (What can you do to me? There is nothing that anyone can do to me).”

 

 

For the record this is Wicknell Chivayo, the self-confessed ex-con, who told parliament that he has no qualifications, yet he allegedly somehow, a few years ago managed to convince government ministers to advance him seven million dollars for a project which to date has never materialised.

 

 

He did this, in a country with ninety percent underemployment, and graduates that sell airtime and live with their parents.

 

 

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I say that controversial Wicknell Chivayo deal portrays how unethical our society had become.

 

 

Ethics should be reflected in Politics

 

 

As we approach elections, my hope is that the positive rhetoric that we have been hearing from president Mnangangwa with respect to corruption and ethics goes beyond talk and becomes enunciated potential policy in the various political manifestos, so that the talk of building an ethical society becomes national policy post-elections.

 

 

We have examples across the world of countries that have managed to restore ethics after years of decline.

 

 

China for instance has had a far-reaching campaign against corruption since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012 steered by that country’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

 

 

Also Singapore (considered to be one of the most ethical societies in the world) seems to have won the war on corruption through strong political will, and by institutionalising a robust, comprehensive anti-corruption framework that spans laws, law-enforcement, the public service and public outreach.

 

 

In any case, it should be the priority of our political leaders to achieve sustainable prosperity alongside ethics beyond the 2018 elections.

 

 

If we build our reputation as an ethical country, with an ethical workforce and an ethical policy framework then naturally investment and revenue will follow.

 

 

Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director

Email

zimrays@gmail.com

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Davos and 2018 elections: What to Expect

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director

Email

zimrays@gmail.com

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