ZIMBABWE ELECTION PETITION & THE DESTRUCTION OF OUR INSTITUTIONS





Have people actually read through both sets of documents submitted to the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe by Nelson Chamisa and Emmerson Mnangagwa?

Monitoring the conversation in the media, both social and traditional, we see that almost 100% of the talk about the case is emanating from MDC supporters. ZANU PF supporters, on the other hand, are almost non-existent. One could argue that it is to be expected, since Nelson Chamisa's supporters have the most to look forward to and have clearly invested more, emotionally, in the outcome of the case.

The same, however, could be said, of ZANU PF supporters, since a ruling against their candidate would result in either an Chamisa presidency or a re-run.

It is clear from the chatter all around us that few MDC Alliance supporters have bothered to read the responses from Emmerson Mnangagwa and Priscilla Chigumba.

What you see instead is a search for hope, grounded not in facts, but in people's hopes that their own prejudices will be reflected in the judiciary.

So you get pseudo-academics talking about how the Chief Justice possibly resents Mnangagwa because of alleged moves to deny him the position he now occupies by the then vice-president. You get far-fetched theories about Justice Makarau's resignation as Chair of the Electoral Commission after Mnangagwa took over the presidency.

Yet when you read through both submissions, especially the response by Mnangagwa, and you put it in context, the outcome is not as certain as Chamisa supporters are making it out to be. To be fair, the outcome is also not certain for Mnangagwa supporters.

But, let us analyse the situation dispassionately, as we should.

First, if I were a Chamisa supporter, I would be very worried by the indications coming from the court at the moment.

Specifically, the failure by Nelson Chamisa to submit solid evidence with his application is a huge part of this case. Mnangagwa argues that, according to law, this failure means that the evidence, including CDs and V11 forms, can not be submitted later, after the application has been filed.  This evidence is what the court requires to make a judgement as to the veracity of the claims Chamisa is making.

The court appears to be agreeing with Mnangagwa on this point. We say so because Chamisa's lawyers tried to leave whatever body of evidence they had gathered at the court the day after they filed their application, 15 August 2018.

The court refused to accept them. A letter now circulating from the court, written to Chamisa lawyers on the same day, says, after consultations with the Chief Justice, the position that these documents can not be accepted stands. Chamisa's lawyers are asked by the letter to take their documents back.

The deadline had passed.

This is a particularly important point because it tells all of us that the Chief Justice is being a stickler for the rules and for the law, that is the first point.

The second important indicator is that, since this position is basically affirming Mnangagwa's interpretation of the rules and the law around this issue, does this mean that the rest of the legal arguments that Mnangagwa makes  are also more accurate and more in line with the law than the arguments coming from Chamisa?

Not necessarily.

But it should worry those cheering for Chamisa. Because it raises the question: What other points of law, rules and procedures has Chamisa overlooked and which of them will cary weight in court and to what extent?

Reading through Mnangagwa's response, he repeatedly refers to the strict application of the law, the rules and procedures of the court.  If the court agrees with these points to the extent they have agreed with his interpretation of when and how evidence should be submitted, Chamisa has a huge problem on his hands.

But of course, we hold on to the glimmer of hope that he has lawyers. Who presumably know all of this. And, who, presumably, have come up with a strategy to counter these setbacks. But we will not know this until the case is being argued in court on Wednesday. Which makes the confidence of Chamisa supporters that they will be attending his inauguration soon rather perplexing. It will, we think, all end in grief, bitterness and more tears. As well as accusations of capture and so on. Which, of course, will be fanned vigorously by Chamisa and his army of dishonest academics, activists and anarchists as well donor-fund profiteers. 

But all this takes us into the real issue that some of us have with the way the MDC has sought to destroy and delegitimize our institutions of state.

Yes, no institutions are ever perfect.

We refer you to the Bush v Gore case of the early 2000s in the USA. There, the case was decided in Florida, by judges who declared George W. Bush the winner after stopping recounts of the notorious "hanging chards".

George W. Bush's brother, Jeb, was Governor of Florida at the time. The judges were Republican judges (Bush was a Republican).

Al Gore accepted the judgement and threw his weight behind Bush as the genuine president of the USA, despite most of his supporters being very very angry, alleging rigging, corruption and referring to Bush as not being their president.

The behaviour of the supporters was to be expected as it is to be expected in Zimbabwe, also. But true leadership is what Gore did instead of following the instincts of the worst elements amongst his supporters.

Another example was the Nixon vs John F Kennedy election, which resulted in Kennedy being elected president. Kennedy won that election by around 1 000 (one thousand votes). It was widely accepted that Joseph Kennedy, JFK's father, had got into a pact with the Mafia in Chicago to rig that election and hand his son the presidency.

There are other examples.

Neil Kinnock in the UK, so sure of victory for his Labour Party against a dull John Major, that he organised a celebratory party the night of the election, only to cancel it after being beaten narrowly by Major's Tories.

Or, perhaps most famously, the Truman vs Dewey election in the USA again. Newspapers actually published headlines the day after the election, big and bold on the front page, shouting " DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN". To this day, the photograph of a Truman who was declared the winner holding that newspaper aloft and beaming after being declared the winner is iconic.

There are other examples from all over the world.

The difference in all this and Zimbabwe is that the politicians involved in these elections understood that the integrity of institutions was more important than their own ambitions. They, therefore, did not join their less intelligent supporters in casting aspersions on these institutions or doubting their integrity for no reason except suspicion.

This is an important point that is a significant contributor to our continued suffering in Africa and in Zimbabwe.

Why?

Because, suppose the MDC wins and election and forms a government in the future. And ZANU PF supporters, all two or three million of them, take up the mantra that our institutions are captured. The Electoral body gets accused of being in the pocket of the winning party. As is the judiciary. The press. And anyone who disagrees is called the vilest names under the sun?

Do we honestly think that would make for a stable and prosperous country?

No. because half the population will believe that their numbers are more than the other side. And they have been cheated. All evidence to the contrary is cooked. Anyone bringing it forward is captured.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how dictatorships are built and cemented. We should not allow it.

Look, do you remember the 2012 elections in the USA? Do you recall that Obama, by all social media and even traditional media chatter, was not going to win that election? His first debate performance was abysmal. His support base was dissipating, with liberals who had supported him in 2008 disenchanted that he was not liberal enough. They were demonstrably moving away from him.

He won the election with less votes than he did in 2008.

We all remember Republican supporters taking to social media to accuse Obama of having rigged the election with the help of the "Chicago Mafia".

Mitt Romney, his Republican opponent, never bowed to these base instincts of his less savoury supporters. He accepted defeat and the country moved on. Trust in institutions was retained.

The problem in Africa is that Africans, including Zimbabweans, have accepted the worst judgements about themselves by the West and outsiders. They have accepted that they, in Africa, are corrupt thieves without exception. So they expect that the worst accusations about themselves are always true. They, the Africans, will always cheat. Will always steal. Are dishonest. And have no morals and ethics to speak of.

They accept this about themselves and play it out in their own countries.

So why should they complain when they go to Europe and America and are treated as though they, personally, now removed from Zimbabwe or Africa, are also carriers of these diseases? 

Which takes us to the conclusion of all this:

The way our leaders and our people are so ready to discredit themselves means that there will never ever be a legitimately elected leader of an African country, except maybe in South Africa and only South Africa for generations to come. Because whoever wins will be said to have captured all arms of state, even without evidence. And half the population in that country will believe it.

They will sabotage efforts by that elected leader to grow the economy, to fight corruption or do right by the people. Because doing so will provide a basis at the next election for accusing that leader of having failed because he or she is a thief, corrupt and every other thing under the sun.

This can only be stopped by the leaders themselves.

We will tell you this: if were running for office and we lost and we believed, like Gore did in his election, that we had been cheated, we would go to court. When that court ruled, we would praise it's balance and fairness and we would, like Gore, not seek to take our case to the Supreme Court and accept the loss.

Why?

Because we would be sending a message not only to our supporters but all future judges that we trust them to do right by our people. That we expect them to be upstanding and fair. That we would accept whatever they rule because we believe them to be the best embodiment of our values and our institutions.

We worry, no doubt at all, about the abuse of the responsibility of leadership we see at the moment in Zimbabwe.

Instead of building a better nation-state, we have been building cults in Zimbabwe and in Africa. Dangerously so. Our next post is going to look specifically at this, beyond this election and beyond the next one.

We know it will not change anything, of course, because we now have a generation that does not think for itself but hands its brains over to leaders to be told how to think. A generation that does not critically look at matters but accepts whatever is fed to it by its chosen "leaders" like chicks in a nest blindly  accepting morsels from their mother.

But it is important for us to state these things for the few who actually think. Because these thinkers are the leaders of tomorrow and they will help us build a better society by reading, thinking critically and accepting counsel.

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