Zimbabwe: The Pointlessness of New Elections

Photo handout given on July 11, 2008 by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) shows according to the MDC, the body of a polling agent Gift Mutsvungu, whose body was found in a suburb of Harare on July 10, after he was reported missing the previous week, the MDC said in a statement. "His body shows signs of intense torture, his eyes were gouged out and his backside suffered serious burns before his abductors killed him."

The MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai appear to be ready to grant Robert Mugabe's dearest wish: new elections and an opportunity for him to reverse the MDC majority in parliament by means fair or foul. Zimbabweans will be killed again next year in yet another election largely because of commission and omission on the part of the MDC.

Please spare me your twaddle. It will be Mugabe doing the killing and the maiming, yes. It will be Mugabe doing the cheating, yes. So, as usual, you will tell me that "why criticise Tsvangirai when it is Mugabe who........ Why don't you do this and that to Mugabe? Why don't you say this and that about Mugabe? I won't because it is pointless, he will never see sense. But I expect Tsvangirai to be more feeling, more compassionate towards the people who will be killed and maimed by this genocidal maniac we call a president.

To understand why Zimbabweans will be killed again next year unwarrantedly, and why Tsvangirai and the MDC must be held equally responsible for those deaths together with Mugabe, you need to quickly grasp the following analogy:

Getting rid of Mugabe in today's Zimbabwe is like hunting prey out in the veld or the bush. The buck or the wildebeest must not smell you coming, it must not see you coming and you should suprise it when it least expects an attack. If you fail to do this you are a dismal hunter and it serves no purpose to blame the prey for running away. Tamba wakachenjera, play it clever, we say in Shona. This is where the MDC has failed dismally.

Just as the talks were being concluded, Sipepa Nkomo, the man earmarked for the Home Affairs ministry by the MDC, announced to the world that he would, when he got the post, push for the prosecution of ZANU PF thugs for crimes against humanity committed in the aftermath of the March 29 election. So he should, but announcing it before actually getting hold of the prey was a monumental blunder. Own goal number one.

And when parliament met after the June run-off that saw Mugabe "win" the presidency, Tendai Biti and Ian Gonese of the MDC tabled a motion in parliament for the investigation of violence around the June run-off and the prosecution of the perpetrators. So they should, but again.....  Own goal number two.

Parliament was effectively suspended by Mugabe immediately after that, sent home on the pretext that there was no money to keep it running, since no government was in place to draft a national budget.

A few days after that Mogan Tsvangirai, speaking in Bulawayo, also called for the prosecution of Mugabe  and his military leaders for atrocities committed during the Gukurandi era in the mid-1980s. On this there isn't even doubt, Zimbabwe demands that this be done. It has to be done, but again, announcing it before the fact, consoling though it may be to the victims, only prolongs their agony as they see their tormentors dig in their heels as a result and block the day when this necessary holding to account must come about...... Own goal number three.

No one in their right mind disputes that these crimes should be prosecuted. No one in their right mind disputes that the thugs who have been killing and torturing Zimbabweans should be tried and made to pay for their sins. But right now, those thugs are in power, in total control of all the machinery of state, ready and willing to see the country reduced to the most primitive and basic state ever seen in the modern era, just to avoid the humiliation, and the holding to account and perhaps even certain death.

Look, even if it is Tsvangirai's intention to prosecute Mugabe, Perence Shiri, the commander of the Air Force who was in charge of the 5th Brigade when it wreaked havoc in Matabeleland, Chiwengwa, commander of the army and other politicians who have been terrorising Zimbabwe since they began their rule (and it should be, the people demand it), how clever is it to tell them that before he gets his hands on the levers of power?

Tsvangirai has no army that can compel Mugabe to give up power. His allies outside of Zimbabwe will never, ever send in an army to depose the dictator. Ever. So, what is the point of self-destructively shouting to the prey on your approach, with a spear in hand? The prey will run and ensure its own survival. Yes, you then go back home empty-handed to face a hungry family and tell them, "That damned buck should have stayed put. Why did it run away, does it not know my family is hungry and without food? It's the buck's fault we have to go bed hungry for the next five days!"

You can not, therefore blame Mugabe for clinging on to power because self-interest is the most powerful motivation known to man. We know what he is capable of. You do it everyday when you put your interest above that of your neighbour, when you choose to hang on to the little mealie-meal you have instead of sharing it with a starving neighbour because, if you did, your own family would starve tomorrow.  The people with power in Zimbabwe want to ensure that they keep their heads on their necks. They have the means to do this. We don't. Zimbabweans, whenever they are threatened with war, decide that it is better to suffer under Mugabe than to start another civil war. The memory of the liberation war is still fresh in their minds and they do not want another one. This is how Mugabe has managed to keep power and to keep the population cowed.

Most Zimbabweans within the country applauded Tsvangirai for signing the agreement with Mugabe. Why? They realised that for whatever reason, Mugabe will most probaly die in power if we  let him. They also realised that as long as there is this stand-off between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, this polarisation and hatred, they, the ones living in Mbare, Highfields, Glenview, Mkokoba, Dete, Binga, Buhera, Dotito and Murehwa, would be the ones suffering such misery that it will make The Devil weep. More of them will die. More will be tortured. So we must either agree that it is better for all of us to die or negotiate with the tyrant and spare those still living.

The truth of the matter, ladies and gentlemen, is that it is now too late. That brutal truth will hurt us in our little delusional worlds but it is the truth and must be stated. It can not be changed by our wishes, no matter how fervent.

It is now too late because, as the military types and the ZANU PF hierachy says, the MDC has demonstrated over a number of years that there will be vindictiveness and prosecutions once they gain total power. No matter how many elections Morgan Tsvangirai wins now, the system seems determined to ensure that he is never allowed to take power. When Mugabe dies or hands over power within ZANU PF, the party will use the same methods to retain power that it uses now, because the people ordering that it be done will still be around. It is not Mugabe personally who goes out and murders people. 

Perhaps the only other rational OPTION left for the MDC is WAR. Rational but unrealistic. So Tsvangirai has ruled out that route, saying his is a peaceful movement. And besides, we will see perhaps another 30 or 40 thousand sights like in the photo above. 

Is it worth it, you must all ask yourselves? 

If there ever was need for the wiser and more compassionate of the two men to consider compromise, it could never have been greater than it is now. This is our last chance to pull back from the brink of the abyss. Perhaps even through signficant compromise by the man who was given a mandate in March, Morgan Tsvangirai. This act alone would save hundreds, perhaps even thousands of souls.

We believe Tsvangirai is the more compassionate of them and the one who feels the people's pain more keenly than Mugabe. An appeal therefore needs to be made for the MDC leadership to rise to the occasion. To weigh the benefits of plunging this country into yet more electoral chaos, terror and murder against the benefits of compromise to the people.

Zimbabweans can not even go out into the streets to face riot police who carry nothing more lethal than teargas, what hope is there that they will go out to face bullets? Yet you hear lone voices out in the wilderness talking about, "if it has to be war, then so be it..." From London? Boston? Atlanta? Dream on. Mugabe only needs to fire a few rounds into the air to get Zimbabweans stampeding into polling stations to put their Xes next to his name. 

Zimbabweans are good at shouting at each other, at shooting down solution after solution that is offered to them internally and externally and offering no practical ones themselves. Wait and see is not a solution. It's resignation. 

We are immature. As I have said before, SADC owes us nothing. The AU owes us nothing. It is not their duty to get rid of Mugabe for us. And they never will. Look at Somalia. Look at Liberia before Sirleaf. Look at Sierra Leone before Tony Blair sent troops there because there was then a full-blown civil war and realise that it will take that much for us to be freed from this predicament and suffering. When faced with two intransigent parties as they do now, these regional bodies, SADC and the AU will likely simply throw their hands into the air and turn their attention back to their own problems, the issues that affect their own citizens.  

We will never frighten Zuma with threats of a meltdown in South Afria caused by Zimbabwean refugees. We will never be able to convince anyone using that argument. We have been trying that blackmail since 2002, when Zimbabweans blamed the slide of the Rand on Zimbabwe's problems, in the hope that this would spur the South Africans to act. It did not. And the Rand soon recovered, exposing us for the scare-mongers that we are. Six years later, we are still licking our wounds.

Now Zimbabweans are trying to convince themselves that South Africa will do something because the 2010  World Cup will be in jeopardy. Ha ha ha ha. Have they not listened to Sepp Blatter? South Africa only needs to say that they will not be using any stadiums or hotels in Zimbabwe for the event as they had promised their neighbours and that will be the end of that argument. 2010 will come, and Zimbabwe will still be swimming in this cesspit we call our country and the World Cup will go ahead in South Africa. God, we are so delusional. We will not benefit in any way, except by crossing the border to sell trinkets and get the crumbs off the South African table.

We are a pathetic lot, full of bluster that is not backed by action. We have been talking, analysing and convincing ourselves that we are more important than we actually are, that the world gives a two-farthing's worth for our welfare, when in fact, they could not care less what happens here because, as some are beginning to say now, we refuse to take our destiny into our own hands  and forge intelligent local solutions. Why are we failing to come up with those intelligent solutions if we are as educated as we tell the world? If we are too smart for violence, why are we too dumb to find other, non-violent solutions. I blame our leaders. Our true leaders, not these ZANU PF thugs.

Like Mugabe, we all want people who tell us what we want to hear and consider those who give us the truth to be our enemies.  That will be our downfall. In fact, it is already our downfall. The establishment, who hold all the power, have decided that they will lock Tsvangirai out of power forever. There is nothing much you and I can do about that if we are not prepared for a face-down. Morgan will have to go to war to take over the country, that is the truth. It's either we bite that bullet knowing it will be fatal to us as a nation-state or shut up and stop bothering the world, asking them to take our chestnuts out of the fire. That little election next year will not solve anything for us. I am taking bets on that.

It is now even worse because negotiations have also been taken off the options list by ZANU PF. Every election after this will be an extremely violent and brutal affair, so that ZANU PF never finds itself in the situation it is in now, with a minority in parliament and an opposition that swaggers around stating that it and only it can rescue that "ruling party." Mugabe says so. "Never again." And he holds all the cards. Is this clever of us and our leaders? Or is it stupid? To get even more perspective on the games Mugabe plays, click here.

And you say?


  1. From a purely analytical view, you are tight Denford. But think again, if you are convinced Mugabe can do what you say to win the elections next year, check again what he can do if anyone joins him at the moment under the conditions he has created - basicvally a GNU under his terms.

    The only option now is to let him run the marathon until he tires, unless at some point he sees the need to work with others.

  2. I don't think that is acceptable, considering the number of lives and the amount of pain that will come with that decision.

    The victims will be innocent Zimbabweans, they very ones that Morgan Tsvangirai wants to lift from the depths of despair they now inhabit,

  3. Hey Denford, elections! And ZANU PF will win through their usual tactics, you say? NO, THEY WILL NOT WIN, MAVAMBO WILL WIN HANDS DOWN! Or, sorry Den, I remember accusing you for swearing, I simply want to say I hope many Zimbabweans, even those in his camp and those who have chicken hearts like myself will close their eyes, well up some temporary bravado, vote him out in favour of Mavambo!

    Iron sharpens Iron,

    Regional Diasporan

  4. I agree with your analysis Denford. The problem we have in Zim is a leadership failure. Mugabe wont see sense and its a waste of time to expect him to act like a rational human being.

    On the other hand MDC lacks focus:- they appear not to know what they really want. Its quite clear that its impossible for MDC to remove Mugabe by an election. He simply wont allow it. I have been to the rural areas and the people were so brutalised in June to the extend that i dont think they will vote for anyone other than ZANU PF in the near future.

    Remember in March, those who voted for the opposition voted on the belief that they could vote for the opposition with nothing happening to them and they were proved wrong in June.In a new election ZANU PF will just tell the people that "REPEAT THE MARCH 08 mistake and you will get the JUNE 08 results". The people saw ZANU PF at work in June -people were being forced to attend rallies even in the urban areas which are traditionally MDC areas.

    On leadership failure, I wont spare Simba the blame. The project is moving too slowly and there hasnt been an significant progress available to the public.Just look at the pace the COPE guys in SA are transforming their movement. If the Mavambo project is to make an impact in Zim politics they need to move fast. Waiting for any election and hoping that ZANU PF people will compaign for Simba is suicidical. It opens the party to the "opportunist label"

    In my opinion a GNU between MDC and ZANU PF is the best option based on the situation on the ground. It will be difficult to come up with an independent transitional authority because we dont really have any prominent people who fit the "independent" tag at the moment.

    MDC thinks that anyone who doesnt agree with them is ZANU PF and on the other hand ZANU Pf thinks that anyone who doesnt agree with them is MDC or an imperialist set to recolonise the country. So its highly unlikely that MDC and ZANU PF will agree on an "Independent Transitional Authority"..They will be trying by all means to have as much influence as possible and to undermine each other's influence.

  5. Mavambo should start compagning now if they want to win any election. Hoping that ZANU Pf people will decompaign Mugabe is futile. Look at what COPE is doing in SA. Waiting for elections only, opens Simba to the "opportunist tag".

    On a transitional authority I dont think both MDC and ZANU PF will trust anyone who doesnt come from their ranks so I think the best way out of the current hardship is a GNU between MDC and ZANU PF. We also dont have any really independent prominent people who will form the transitional authority. The so-called independent personnel in Zim all so anti ZANU and proMDC to the extend that ZANU PF will not agree to them taking over even for a temporary.

    As for Simba, he is a politician--with his own interests so he is therefore not an independent player.

  6. I disagree with your analysis on the outcome of any election that Mugabe may call. I have been to rural areas, have spoken to my brother - same father same mother - who is a chief and staunch ZANU PF supporter who unashamedly told me that ZANU PF is DEAD! The rural folk have been more traumatised by hunger and deprivation than the so-called chimurenga war or June 08 elections. They are more prepared than the urban folk to put the head on the block and vote MDC than ZANU PF even with a gun held to their head. Rural folk in Nyanga, Rusape, Buhera, Mutasa, Mberengwa have been BRAVE enough to stand up to the minority intimidators in the form of ZANU PF or soldiers with guns. They picked up stones in Mberengwa, ready to stone ZANU PF thugs if they were going to interfere with the resumption of food aid. There is a price to be paid, no matter which course you will pursue, for things to ever change from ZANU PF to a new establishment under MDC. Forget Mavambo they were rejected at the last elections - Simba's (and indeed Dabengwa's) long association with ZANU PF will never endear them to the Zim electorate. They lack organization and seriousness in establishing themselves as a party let alone a government-in-waiting. As I wrote in earlier comments, the Zim electorate only sees change through elections - they are cowardly to take to the streets in protests, they run away from their shadows just like ZANU PF does. The so-called political leaders need to learn from Jenni Williams how civil unrest can be executed with precision and results. We need underground movements that effectively organize and mobilize people for regime change be it through elections or civil disobedience.

  7. anon, yes we have leadership crisis in Zim, but we the general population are to blame for our selfishness & letting this old bastard rule us like we are in a chicken run. if we don't actively participate in bringing political change in zim, then this old man will rule until he can't walk or talk & an economy totally ruined. If you & me can't join hands to force bob to step down, we are also responsible for all these deaths. if you watch a murder & do nothing about it, are you not an accomplice. But if we rise against this dictator..enough is enough my brothers & sisters.

    i was watching this old man on msnbc.com saying cholera has been contained...imagine....when people continue to die....can you believe it...& some people actually applauding such rubbish........

  8. Denford.

    Mugabe is safe.

    Until the month end.

    Then he will have to come up with more cash to keep his supporters sweet. Every end of the month, something flares up. Up until now he has not had too much trouble in finding the cash to distribute among his disciples.

    And, indeed, the cholera was a masterstroke because it brought in the international aid agencies' forex which by law, has to be given to Gono.

    But as much forex as Gono receives, there are always more pigs in the trough that Mugabe must feed.

    Every month-end brings a problem for ZANU-PF and this December will be no different.

  9. @Anonymous,

    You may disagree with the analysis on the basis of what your brother tells you but that does not change the fact that even if Morgan Tsvangirai wins 100% of the vote today, the establishment would rather die than see him take office.

    Did he not beat Mugabe fair and square in MArch? What happened? Did your brother and his village friends do anything as Mugabe held the results hostage.

    This is the reason we will not see progress, Anon. Because people like you will fool other people, lying to them that this time it will be different. It won't.

    Will your village friends force Mugabe to have USA and UN observers? Will they force him to count the votes properly? What will they do when he announces his "crushing" 61% victory against Morgan? You are kidding yoruself my friend. You even go on to contradict yourself by saying Zimbos are cowards, so how will they stand up to Mugabe who can be brutal when fighting for survival.

    As for Simba Makonia nd Dumiso Dabengwa, they will surprise your MDC in that next election. People have lost hope because you and Morgan have been playing with their emotions, getting them to celebrate a unity deal and then reneging, running away out of the country.....

    Keep taking the people for granted like ZANU PF has done and you in the MDC will see at that election that you do not have the title deeds to opposition in this country.

    In fact, in March, Makoni beat Morgan and Mugabe combined in Matabeleland, where you write off Dabengwa. Guys, do not think you can toy with people's lives like this simply because you are called MDC. People think. They can reason. And they are now turning against you and your MDC.

    I am calling for Morgan to put people first and compromise to form that government. Otherwise we will see the same horrible scenes as the one in the photo here. What has happened to Gandi Mudzingwa? Jestina Mukoko? All the others? It will happen again and what will your village friends do to show their bravery?

    Morgan must save lives, spare the people from the gruesome death scene such as the one in the picture here. This is his last chance.

  10. Denford, are you all right? I sense despair in this latest post. Surely it is not this hopeless?

  11. A point was made above which is also one I have made before.

    Zimbabweans need to make their voices heard.

    To do this they need to organise themselves. The WOZA women know what to do, Zimbos should learn from them.

  12. Denford, great story just to digress i am sure you feel vindicated by the recent developments that are taking place. You reported on a planned state of emergency and though your story had very strong merits, i had some doubts that Zanu-pf was that clever and that stupid. I admit that i was wrong and you were right based on the sequence of events, the pieces that are fitting together as a preamble to the envisaged SOE.
    1.The abduction of the MDC activists: Biti has confirmed a plot to record forced confessions admitting banditry training.
    2 The hired Mercenary piece: it has been reported in New Zimbabwe an alleged attempt on Perence Shiri by described "professional hit men" this fits in with your theory of alleged opposition hired mercenaries.
    3.The Zim govt Botswana accusations: former high ranking ZDF officials are said to have spilt the beans on an alleged opposition plot to effect a military coup with Botswana's help.
    4.The kidnapping of Jestina and MDC officals who will no doubt be accused of planning the insurgencies.
    5.The staged soldier riot is now making sense as central piece to this evil and twisted plan as a key piece in the sequence of events necessary for setting a basis for a justifiable and unavoidable SOE.

    I think you were right my brother so far and now the opposition is beginning to react and now are trying to preempt it, hopefully it is not too late.
    As Biti said when Moyo was elected speaker of the house "musa tambe nesu" let me also say "musatambe naMagora vakomana!"

  13. As much as we wish that Morgan Tsvangirai inhibits these killings they will still continue and he will still continue focusing on the ministry of home affairs and buying mansions in other countries.

    You may already know that he recently bought a 14 million rand mansion in Joburg? I really liked this guy but things have changed after i realised that my friends died for nothing. Very painful indeed!

    Hope makes us die happy, and not realise suppression and inhumanity in which we are subjected to. I'm only hurt by the fact that there is no unity and focus in Zimbabwean people. The turmoil is just beginning.


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