Accusations Of Dictatorship and Vote Rigging Highlight Opposition’s Confusion

The opposition in Zimbabwe loves to accuse Robert Mugabe of vote rigging & dictatorship, which is ironic because there are forming coalitions left right and center to participate in an election whose results they claim are pre-determined says Edmund Kudzayi
The opposition in Zimbabwe loves to accuse Robert Mugabe of vote rigging & dictatorship, which is ironic because there are forming coalitions left right and center to participate in an election whose results they claim are pre-determined says Edmund Kudzayi

By Edmund Kudzayi

Why would logical politicians waste their time forming coalitions when they know they already have all the support they need but they are being blocked by rigging? It does not make sense. When you talk of a coalition you imply that you need more votes to defeat your opponent.

I’m always amused when I hear the opposition refer to Mugabe’s government as a junta, regime or a dictatorship. They argue that Mugabe’s government is illegitimate because he rigs elections.

I am not interested in disputing their views but exploring the implications of those views. For the purposes of this discussion, let us assume that the government is indeed a junta, a regime, a dictatorship.

This is language that we have been hearing for over a decade. The point of perplexity is why any sane person would agree to contest an election against an individual they claim to be a dictator? The dictator/junta could very well just decide to ignore the election result and continue governing!

This raises serious questions: If the opposition sincerely believes that Mugabe is an election-rigging dictator why do they continue to participate in elections whose result, by their own admission, is predetermined? You would have to be pretty stupid to devote such energy and resources in an election contest you know to be futile. This takes us to the second – and in my view more likely – possibility, that they are insincere and are merely playing politics.

When it comes to rigging I am sure Zanu PF is delighted by the allegations that it rigs elections. Please understand this point. Zanu PF is not damaged by claims that it rigs elections, it benefits from those claims. Allow me to explain:

In 2013 Tendai Biti claimed that Zanu PF had flown in West Africans to vote and tilt the election. This was an absurd claim. How many airplanes would you require to fly in 200,000 West Africans. Where would they sleep? In hotels? In the bush? It is madness and Zanu PF easily laughs off these claims in conversation with their regional counterparts.

The MDC-T also claimed that Zanu PF had used a special kind of ballot paper that ‘shifted’ votes to Mugabe. So if you voted for Tsvangirai the ink would move over to Mugabe. Black magic Zanu style! This is the official position of the MDC-T.

The point I am making is that claims that Zanu PF rigs lack the evidence and credibility that could result in the region rejecting the election as free and fair. If anything, it makes the opposition look juvenile, desperate and silly.

So how do these claims help Zanu PF?

Opposition supporters are increasingly demoralized. Why should they waste time voting in an election when Mugabe has vote-shifting ballot papers? The opposition has unwittingly discouraged its base from turning out for elections.

The simple question is: what’s the point, why should I vote if the election is going to be rigged? Why should I waste my time?

The Mai Mujuru/Coalition Dynamic

Finally, I want to pose a question. What is the point of an opposition coalition if Zanu PF rigs elections?

Surely if Zanu PF has the capacity to rig they will simply increase the intensity of that rigging.

Why would logical politicians waste their time forming coalitions when they know they already have all the support they need but they are being blocked by rigging? It does not make sense. When you talk of a coalition you imply that you need more votes to defeat your opponent.