07 August 2013

We Told You So: Why MDC lost the Zimbabwean Elections

Chris Nqoe is back! Nkosinqobile Dube (Chris Nqo) is a Zimbabwean Law graduate and also the Editor in Chief of dECK Magazine in Bulawayo. He has also been a speaker at Global Changemakers workshops as well as panels such as Al-Jazeera's The Stream, Channel Zim & Zimbabwean Radio.

This is the point where I'd stick my tongue out and laugh till my ribs crack. Doing all that and still managing to utter the words: "I told you so".

I would be shouting those words at the top of my voice. That's if the fate of an entire country did not depend on this electoral outcome. I'd be saying that too, if the hopes, plans and dreams of millions of Zimbabweans had not been dashed by the X's of just under 3.4 million of their countrymen
But what exactly did me, Bongani and a few other analysts tell you would happen or not happen? We told you to Vote No to the draft constitution.[Click here for Chris' guest blog & here for mine].

That it was an imperfect compromise that would return to haunt Zimbabwe. And on the first days of howling, cold and bitter August, those words returned to haunt our lives.

My kindergarten self is again tempted to return to the What If mode. What if Zimbabwe had heeded the call of progressive minds and voted No? What if Zimbabweans had shown that the will of the people need not be predetermined by the positions set by political parties? What If Zimbabweans, for once in their independent lifetime took charge of their fate and demanded what they really want?

What if, what if, what if? What if we didn't answer the above questions? And instead focused on what next?
So many questions. However, in order for us to plan ahead, we need to understand where we got it wrong. For my fellow countrymen, the reality is starting to dawn on them, the future is uncertain. You see, in politics, there always has to be a plan. With a plan there must be an end goal and to get there requires strategy. Good strategy.

Now, let's look at the present state of affairs in Zimbabwe, who appears to have had a good plan and the perfect strategy to achieve their goal?

Yes, you're with me. Let's all say this at once: ZANU-PF.

And it all began in December 2012 at the ZanuPF Congress. They started planning. Frustrated by the constant checks and balances from their partners in the GNU, the revolutionary party decided they had had enough. The GNU was always going to conclude and elections would be held.

The first point in the ZanuPF plan was to achieve the seemingly impossible. Register one million new voters. The analysts laughed it off, their parties in the GNU gave it scant attention. ZanuPF got to work.
From January 2013 they have been working at mobilising their structures for Voter Registration, the referendum & subsequently, elections. The end goal was elections. As you read this you're aware of the Zimbabwe Election results of the year 2013. [Editors’ Note, if you are not, check out their Wikipedia page here]

Let's say it all again, who won? ZanuPF!

Alas I have jumped the gun. For all this to have taken place, so many processes had to kick it off.
Zimbabwe went to a referendum in March, at the behest of the major parties in the GNU. They had come up with a document, in which they all called for Zimbabwe to endorse. The COPAC Draft Constitution went to a popular referendum and was voted for overwhelmingly. I called the Draft Constitution a risky compromise, in thisblog post. Laid down the principles on why Zimbabwe should #VoteNo.

But we were lone voices in the wilderness of Yes choruses. Legal scholars, NGO's, Political analysts, the MDC-T, ZANU-PF and MDC-N all called upon Zimbabweans to #VoteYes. The MDC's all called for a vote Yes anticipating a victory in the upcoming elections, basing it on blind hope and belief that Zimbabwean would vote out ZANU-PF. ZANU-PF called for a Yes vote to get rid of the GNU and win the elections based on a popular mandate.

Perhaps what is most striking in August 2013 is how all the above players, are now singing from different hymn books. The discord is humorous for us, the so called progressive minds.
The conductor of this choir is now ZANU-PF. The pitch of voices has shifted. Whereas back in March they were heralding the dawn of a new era, with a New Constitution, the mood is one of sombre realisation. "We were cheated".

ZANU-PF is enjoying the chorus of discontent. For them, the pieces have all fallen into place.
No. You were not cheated. You cheated yourselves. You went into a game, without a strategy and without a plan. ZanuPF had one. Get more people to register to vote, #VoteYes for the Draft Constitution so as to end this power sharing agreement, call for elections and mobilise people to vote overwhelmingly for us. This has all been achieved. Perfectly so. It was all part of the bigger plan to get back into total control. ZANU-PF got here by getting the MDC's to endorse their own demise.

What if Zimbabwe had voted No? What if the new constitution had been rejected by progressive Zimbabweans who saw the bigger picture? What if we had all realised that by being told to Vote Yes, we were endorsing the beginning of the end?

What if that realisation can't help us now?

Zimbabweans Voted Yes to the new constitution because the dominant political parties told them to vote Yes. We did not bother to question the motive, ideals and principles behind this supreme law.
Fast forward to August 2013. The signs point to a ZANU-PF victory, the political party that called on Zimbabweans to endorse the unity shown by its partners in the GNU and Vote Yes. On the dawn of their victory, whispers have emerged that they are itching to correct the mistake of the New Constitution.

In simple terms ZANU-PF first goal in parliament and in power will be to amend the Constitution they endorsed.

What if we had put a bump to the constitution, allowed more time for fair voter registration, for a voters roll audit and to go into fair elections prepared? What if we had voted No? Followed our collective conscience as Zimbabweans, knowing what's best for our country and safe guarding the pillars of democracy.

What if we had known that politicians look after their interests first? Interrogated why they wanted us to Vote Yes to a draft constitution that did not reflect the true will of Zimbabweans.

We never did all those things. Like the MDC's we followed the ZANU-PF lead and were blindly led to a bleak and uncertain future. All because we never questioned and realised that power lay in us Zimbabweans saying No.

But again, we told you so. What if you had listened?

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