Friday, 2 May 2008

Zimbabwe: Condemned by figures, saved by figures

Zimbabwe: Condemned by figures, saved by figures

Ours is an amazing world in a state of constant flux, one where the only constant is inconsistency. Poor me, I did not realise that arguing for a suspension of, or retreat from, the ballot is quite in harmony with the much vaunted democracy.

The debate on Zimbabwe’s post-election future, especially as this debate has been unfolding in "democratic" opposition circles, has been most astonishing.

It has ranged from deranged suggestions of an outright opposition win, to the wish and push for a government of national unity (GNU), Kenyan-style.

It has moved fictitious victory, to agitating for an insurrection.

In both claims, one sensed a furious determination against an electoral phenomenon — apparently read as undemocratic — which our perspicacious lawyers called "a run-off". The compound word is neither big nor sonorous. Its political basis is a very simple one. In their infinite wisdom, these our lawyers reasoned that Zimbabwe deserves to be ruled by a person with an outright, undivided and unquestioned mandate, never by a person enjoying split confidence of the electorate. Mathematically, it means one must get more than half of combined votes of all the other presidential aspirants, for one to go to State House.

I suppose this is why the late Chimbetu said "kuState House kure", even though he had no legal inkling. Where no candidate does, it means the best two will have to slug it out in a secondary poll which will then decide an outright winner through a simple first-past-the-post.

This is what our lawyers call a run-off, itself quite a vulnerable compound word subject to word games by cynics. MDC says it is not a run-off; rather, it is a run-over by Zanu (PF)’s flattening machinery. Poor word! But it is in our law, and was all along made dormant by the sheer fact that until now, the Presidential contest has been a two-horse race.

Until a mule called Simba Makoni, and a scabby donkey (Towungana) — clearly fed up with carting maize bags to the grinding mill — decided on searching for a kinder, more ambitious fate.

Who does not want to mount, who? Inevitably, the contest became complex and pregnant, necessitating the full law, or rather its full, wrathful exertion. Whoever chooses to sleep by the ambers, should not turn!

Enter British rig-masters

The West, led by the British and Americans, grossly interfered with our electoral system.

They thought they had put in place a foolproof rigging system. Zanu (PF) went to sleep, went to sleep fulltime as if they had no revolution to guard, no country to defend.

The real battle in the SADC-sponsored inter-party talks, came over seemingly innocuous concessions which the MDCs pushed for, but whose deadly import was never quite appreciated at the time of their making.

It turned out they were all designed to create an environment hospitable to opposition rigging, itself a seeming paradox.

We are used to Governments that rig, never the Opposition, which is why Zanu (PF) has had a mountain to climb, and short legs to do it!

The slide of believability was against it, which is why MDC-T almost walked away with naked heinous murder.

At those talks, very critical questions were not raised; very critical suspicions were not aroused in the minds of both the immediate negotiators and the Party’s echelons of leadership.

Why, for instance, where the MDCs fighting so hard to push the police out of polling stations, to restrict them to the tattered hemp of the electoral drama? Why? Surely definitionally, policing means everywhere, anywhere?

The sinister figures game.

Why, for instance, did the MDCs suggest 210 constituencies, and not a thousand, not two, not twenty, not five hundred, or any other number?

True, the idea of an enlarged Parliament and Senate was Zanu (PF)s, with derisive arguments coming from the MDC to say the ruling Party wanted room for its political supernumeraries.

But beneath these gratuitous insults, was the MDC really uncomfortable with an enlarged lower house and upper house? Or was it playing hard to get in a game so sweet, a game so welcome? The figure was not Zanu (PF)’s.

How had the MDC arrived at 210, and underpinned by what reasoning and mathematical calculations?

Who stood to benefit from numerically smaller, but many constituencies, more so in an environment where on average, voter apathy delivered around 15 000 votes in most constituencies, even before this constituency enlargement through numerical shrinkage of constituency units? What extrapolations had been made for the MDC by British rig-masters? Never before have figures and counting threatened and redeemed a people.

Rigging though media hysteria

The media laws had been revised in the talks, but only in the context of amendments envisaged under a new constitution which the talks situated in a miasmic distance, well after the March polls.

A few days before year-end, there was searing opposition pressure to bring these media changes forward, ahead of the new constitution, to govern the March polls.

The effect was unprecedented, both institutionally and on the ground. Institutionally, ZEC superseded and retired lawful statutory regulatory bodies which had traditionally governed media relations during the election period.

BAZ was suspended by another statutory body to which an aura of constitutionalism had been conferred.

MIC suffered a worse fate. It was killed by a non-existent body called the Zimbabwe Media Commission which, to make matters worse, would operate junior to ZEC.

Accreditation became voluntary, creating new media circumstances which did not suggest an embattled country, but one where the West’s media could roam and frolic like newly mated steeds.

As with Kenya, the ground had been set for the unleashing of the media as an instrument to oust law, procedure, sense and accuracy, for a concussing hysteria.

ZEC and national peace were supposed to be overrun by a media-led hysterical lynching of the Nation, which is why well over 600 media-organisations, mostly from the West sought to cover the polls.

Hats off the Justice Chiweshe and his team for standing firm.

In their stubbornness emerged our sovereignty and real independence of ZEC!

An amazingly generous contestant

There are many elements which were brought to bear on the whole process and I leave these for some other day.

The West had put in place a rigging programme, the same way the British rigged Nigeria’s first independence poll, to allow a win for a preferred candidate.

From their viewpoint, the plan was foolproof and should have delivered a direct hit, an outright win for Tsvangirai.

The present British consternation is on how the plan misfired and went awry, yielding a run-off as its burnt-out odious outcome. When this became apparent to them, Tsvangirai came under calibrated pressure to drop his original commitment to a lawful obedience to due process, for reckless belligerency and lawlessness.

Hoping for a second Mazoka on Zimbabwe, the British and the Americans ordered him to declare himself the winner, plucking from the yawning void the magical figure of 50.3 percent, for a self-arrogated outright win.

Immediately Western state actors and their rabid media swung into action, subjecting the country and its electoral processes to searing attack. Much worse, there was a blatant accosting of violence and insurrection, all to burn this country.

The law was too slow, in any case, too rigorous and probing to begin to rake the muck Britain had deposited through ZESN and other covert players.

It got worse when Zanu (PF) asked for recounts.

Teachers who had been trained in South Africa and here by the NDI to rig the poll started fleeing the country to avoid the long arm of the law. To this day, they remain in self-exile. The West was on its edge.

The Chinese red herring

Enter the Chinese ship.

What made the Chinese ship distraught was not its cargo. Far from it.

The ship carried arms orders for at least three nations, South Africa included. In fact Zimbabwe had the smallest order.

So let us make it very clear: the arms or docking of the ship in the region could not have been the matter. What brought misery to the ill-fated ship was the fact that it reached the shores of South Africa at a time when MDC’s foreign-designed rigging machinery was about to be uncovered and needed to be rescued.

This, not the ship, is what was adrift.

The risk of being caught and exposed was real, and Britain, America and their sympathisers in Europe were ready to go to war to protect their honour as countries that do not tamper with democracy.

I wonder whether Zimbabweans realise the grave danger they faced, triggered by a set of factors that had absolutely nothing to do with what would have been cited as the causa belli.

And also whether Zimbabweans know that the ship which is still in the region, and in fact docked and offloading its cargo, did not fizzle out of the news because the Chinese had backed off.

It fizzled out because the British had wrung out of it every ounce of propaganda value, every ounce of the sideshow designed to cover up for the abuse of our ballot. The war option had failed to gain momentum, which is why the "ship" ended up a good vessel for consolidating an anti-Zimbabwe, anti-Zanu (PF) sentiment within the popular.

Genocide with no victims

Come to think of it, the allegations made to discredit the cargo were plain stupid and senseless. What is "genocide" in circumstances of Zimbabwe’s electoral outcome? Is MDC a people, a tribe, a race, an ethnic group? l To page 5

Granted they are owned and run by that depraved tribe and race called white Labour, but does that make them a homogenous, stand-alone, identifiable sub-group threatened for its collective biological identity?

Is Tsavngirai’s big black nose, chubby and pimply cheeks identifiable with any tribe the way the lanky height and beauty of Tutsis made them an identifiable, targeted Bantu sub-group?

Who is Tutsi, who is Hutu in the MDC-Zanu (PF) electoral dialectic? Who is Kikuyu, who is Kalenjini, Kamba, Masai, etc, etc?

Is Zimbabwe’s vote ethnically reducible? How do you invoke the discourse of genocide in Zimbabwe’s electoral circumstances?

Or was it an emotional trigger, a propaganda take?

Why would this seduce leading circles of African opinion?

Why were some Africans ready to believe such bald propaganda?

Why was it so easy and so effortless for Britain to build and trigger the fear factor from such a poor and patently unconvincing argument?

Why were completely inaccurate parallels being drawn with Kenya where violence where except as a decent pretext, the violence there was indeed endemic to a long simmering land question?

And the fear factor persists to this day, but this time not predicated on a never-never Chinese ship bristling with deadly arms, but on an invisible vessel called RUN-OFF.

Which takes me to my point after so long a wander.

Pissing on ballot, lisping GNU

The run-off is provided for under our law. The run-off is not the invention of Zimbabwe’s legal minds.

It is a legal copy-and-don’t-improve insertion into the Electoral Act, founded on what frankly is exorbitant legal and political Puritanism on the part of our unoriginal drafters. But it is there, echoing many legal jurisdictions, many political occurrences in very recent past.

The re-run clause is not sui generis.

Where there is no outright winner, candidates go for a run-off as an electoral standard.

What then is the big deal in respect of Zimbabwe?

How does a party which gluttonously appropriates the adjective "democratic", suddenly show a visceral fear the ballot, itself the handmaiden of democracy?

More accurately, fear the concluding mile to a race it agreed to run and in which it has a marginal lead, but short of the final lap?

And in its clearly enjoyed lead, it bafflingly pleads that the race be abandoned so a tie is declared and the trophy shared? Here is a party which claims its president got an outright win pleading for a government of national unity with losers?

Why such a bout of generosity from a man who once threatened to remove the President "violently" if he does not "go now pisifuri?"

Is GNU a higher value and ideal than the ballot?

Is it more democratic than the ballot? If it is, why waste resources and energy on elections when in fact the matter can simply get settled by declaring a small deadlock, be-splattering the ballot box with some little innocent blood, and then inviting an Annan to mediate between two weary and stalemated belligerents?

Why does Tsvangirai fear a run-off to a point of accosting international intervention to obviate it?

The real shock of March 29

Well, simply because the rigged electoral system was supposed to deliver an outcome in one and only attempt.

It is not repeatable.

This is what is giving Britain horrible goosefleshes.

Urging Tsvangirai to boycott the poll is worse.

It means the run-off goes ahead, regardless, with President Mugabe emerging the sole winner.

That is horrendous to the British would cannot wait see Mugabe’s back. What is worse, the premature re-occupation of commercial farms by former white farmers, has clearly revealed to Zimbabweans the deadly white interest which lurks beneath the so-called movement for democratic change.

The real motive behind the MDC project has been brought to the fore.

The shroud and illusion of irreversibility which wrapped up beneficiaries of land reforms vanished in a terror instant, leaving everyone feeling acutely vulnerable.

Until this happened, voting was a trite matter, a nuisance for most such land beneficiaries. Indeed, a ritual of nuisance value unconnected to the new ownership of commercial land, or continued tenure on it.

The horror, the horror! With the negative result of 29th March, the new farmers realised they had dragged in a faggot swarming with big black ants, in the process inviting a visit from an aggressively hungry lizard.

When a former white owner of the farm you now call yours visits you alone, while in the company of his militant kith-and-kin, to politely tell you: "Thanks for looking after my farm and home so badly, but after Tsvangirai’s swearing-in ceremony, get ready to make way", it suddenly hits you hard that the land reform programme is indeed reversible; that Zimbabwe faces a real prospect of becoming a colony again. You start wondering whether the shamba you left in Buhera is still open to you to return, you the limping, shrunk native beating an unceremonious return from mindamirefu, the tall fields.

You start wondering how you will make ends not even meet, but remotely face each other from scratching a hard, unyielding livelihood from loamy soils of communal home.

You start wondering the psychological impact of this sea-change: from a proud landowner to a chattel on a white-run shop-floor.

You also realise the tractor and implements you got do belong to RBZ now under the control of German experts, thanks to Tsvangirai’s revolution!



Then you realise it has been a very short sweet dream, but with a very rude ending only resolved by another war never to be won in your own time and life.

Under an MDC government you are set to re-emerge, shorn, pure and original, as from mummy’s womb!

This is the new shock and reckoning, one which makes Tsvangirai acutely aware that March 29 is not repeatable.

Only a modest proposal

Now it’s my turn to agitate against the ballot.

And here I go.

Let us concede the astounding premises advanced by the MDC votaries of democracy, namely that there is nothing hallowed or sacrosanct about the ballot.

It can be stayed, overruled, replaced, rigged, superseded, sidestepped, for higher considerations such as GNU, or preferred outcomes.


Oh Ballot Box!

Unhallowed be thy name!

You can be democratically supplanted by GNU, by negotiations and by vaulting ambition!

So here we go: This country won its nationhood, its independence, its sovereignty, its land, through barrel and bullet, through blood and iron, pain and pangs.

I dwelt on this last week. If you can kick and shit on the 29 March ballot box for an ideal called GNU, surely it must be a lot easier to shit on, and even shoot – yes shoot - the ballot box for the preservation of your Independence, Sovereignty and Land, themselves higher than a mere Government of National Unity?

A mere X on a piece of paper, all done in time shorter than life-creating ecstasy, can steal a free people, steal a heritage, steal a freedom, steal land, steal a future?

Uuhh! We may have to test the argument.

I hope not. Icho!

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