'Zimbabwe polls were meant to start new era'

'Zimbabwe polls were meant to start new era'
Published: 18 August 2018 (240 Views)
Emmerson Mnangagwa has been declared president of Zimbabwe amid protests and violence.

But Zimbabweans are now in a post-political, economy-first mood.

Before Zimbabwe's general election on 30 July, there was a lot of talk about there being "landmark change" and "credibility."

But in many ways it was déjà vu. Mnangagwa's ruling Zanu-PF party won the parliamentary vote, taking a majority 144 seats out of 210.

The opposition MDC Alliance, a seven-party coalition led by Nelson Chamisa, won 64 seats - an improvement on their 2013 showing of 44 seats, but still falling far short of expectations.

The presidential results were much closer. After clashes on Wednesday, the incumbent Mnangagwa was declared winner early Friday morning, taking 50,8 percent of the vote against Chamisa's 44,3 percent.

The 21 other independent presidential candidates polled less than five percent between them.

The polls didn't quite live up to the hype. There was much that was positive: the prelude and election day were peaceful, with a minimal military presence.

Opposition candidates were able to hold nationwide rallies (including in Zanu-PF's rural heartland) without interference - an electoral first. Zanu-PF leaders and the military called for a peaceful process.

Four women candidates contested the presidential vote, another first. More than five million Zimbabweans registered out of an eligible voting population of 7,2 million, and there was a near record 75 per cent turnout on voting day.

Zimbabwe invited official observers from 46 countries and 15 international organisations, and, for the first time since 2002, observers from the EU, the Commonwealth and the US were present.

But shortcomings included late public access to the imperfect biometric voters' roll and controversies about the ballot papers.

There were also misogynistic social media attacks and threats against female candidates and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chair Justice Priscilla Chigumba.

The three-day wait for presidential results saw a further decline in public trust in the Zec, and the opposition's premature announcement of a Chamisa victory only fanned the political flames.

On August 1, six unarmed civilians were shot dead by soldiers in Harare, with dozens more assaulted.

A Joint International Observer Mission statement promptly condemned the violence and called for restraint.

The election process was a boon for democracy, but ironically the result has entrenched the two-party parliamentary system and marginalised alternative voices.

Mnangagwa has been conciliatory in his post-election statements, saying that Nelson Chamisa has a "crucial role to play" and calling for unity to "build a new Zimbabwe for all."

But Chamisa's MDC Alliance has refused to accept the results, calling them "fake" and a "scandal."

The MDC has raised genuine transparency concerns and will likely challenge the results in court, but much of this may be cosmetic - with little chance of a 2017 Kenya-style presidential re-run.

There is no critical mass of opposition parties to sustain a challenge, nor is there a popular appetite for a protracted political feud.

Zimbabwe's democracy agenda may be heading into the slow lane, and Chamisa may be pressured by his coalition partners to make a political accommodation with Mnangagwa.

Nevertheless, despite setbacks, Zimbabwe's opposition and civil society has a long history of resilience under pressure and the struggle for democracy will continue.

Mnangagwa has a full in-tray. He has to unite a fractious Zanu-PF and manage internal civil-military and generational faultlines.

Beyond that, he may need a public reconciliation with Chamisa - similar to how in Kenya and Mozambique, similar incumbent-opposition quarrels were mended by public rapprochements.

But Zimbabweans are now in a post-political, economy-first mood.

Resolving the cash crisis is crucial. Few Zimbabweans can withdraw more than $50 a day from banks or ATMs and much of this is paid out in unpopular "bond coins."

The formal sector has contracted to only 20 percent of the economy, and the informal sector lacks the capacity to push an economic renewal.

Zimbabwe's new internationalism is premised upon the 2015 Lima process economic reform pathway (opens in new window)for debt arrears clearance. (The country has a $10 billion foreign debt.)

There has been a modest increase in foreign and Diaspora investment, but the big-money Chinese, Russian and other pledges are long-horizon projects.

What Zimbabwe needs is a short-term economic stimulus - to support small and medium-sized businesses.

For this to happen, Mnangagwa has to stay the course on economic reform, ease of doing business and the anti-corruption agenda.

The pivot from reform to transformation in Zimbabwe will require all hands on deck, including civil society, the opposition, Zimbabwe Diaspora and foreign investors, in a partnership for development.

A positive global verdict on the elections could supercharge investment, but time will tell whether these polls have been a deal-maker or a deal-breaker.

Zimbabwe's elections often split the global south and the global north, and this could be the case again.

The EU will have to decide whether to continue their incremental rapprochement with Zimbabwe, or accelerate to the reciprocity-based, "Re-Engagement 2.0" approach currently favoured by the UK although the US is unlikely to lift statutory sanctions anytime soon.

Zimbabwe's possible return to the Commonwealth could also be divisive, given the broader global context of the perceived existential clash between beleaguered liberal democracy and the rise of populist - and popular-autocracies across the globe.

Mnangagwa - along with South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, Mozambique's Filipe Nyusi and others - belong to a pragmatic new wave of regional economic reformers nudging liberationism away from ideology. He now has an electoral mandate to lead a divided country.

- dailynews

 0

You May Like These Videos

Comments

There are no comments.

Latest stories

Knox Mutizwa wins August Goal of the Month award

by kickoff | 05 November 2018 | 956 Views

BREAKING: Gandawa on the run

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 1816 Views

Econet cannot distribute Kwese TV content to Zimbabwean viewers

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 1383 Views

Shoot-out robbers arrested

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 1419 Views

Mnangagwa ally warns economic saboteurs

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 1368 Views

Chamisa mobilises supporters for mass protests

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 1149 Views

LISTEN: Acie Lumumba speaks on how he got paid

by Staff Reporter | 05 November 2018 | 954 Views

Dzamara speak on Zanu-PF fights

by Mandla Ndlovu | 05 November 2018 | 917 Views

Minister Raj Modi Modi donates salary

by Mandla Ndlovu | 05 November 2018 | 782 Views

'I am a Trillionaire' Magaya says

by Mandla Ndlovu | 05 November 2018 | 1249 Views

Supermarkets to be blacklisted over cooking oil

by Mandla Ndlovu | 05 November 2018 | 774 Views

UK army to recruit from Commonwealth

by BBC | 05 November 2018 | 843 Views

Magaya opens up on arrest

by Mandla Ndlovu | 05 November 2018 | 846 Views

Kambarami is still 'Deputy Mayor'

by Mandla Ndlovu | 05 November 2018 | 694 Views

'Import ban must not go beyond December 21'

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 777 Views

Prophet Magaya puts fresh spin to arrest

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 799 Views

Chamisa's sign language interpreters get thumps up

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 789 Views

Mnangagwa to review Mthuli Ncube's 2% tax again

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 755 Views

Lumumba to be probed by ZAAC?

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 558 Views

Dzamara speak on ZANU PF fights

by Mandla Ndlovu | 05 November 2018 | 525 Views

Zimbabwe as a new gateway into Africa

by Minister of Finance Prof Mthuli Ncube | 05 November 2018 | 766 Views

Chiwenga's ex-wife looted millions

by Mandla Ndlovu | 05 November 2018 | 1155 Views

We are our own worst enemies

by Mapozho Saruchera | 05 November 2018 | 814 Views

Mnangagwa to deal with unexplained wealth and bank deposits

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 757 Views

WATCH: Chiwenga talks about Prophet Walter Magaya's lipstick

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 747 Views

Lumumba Saga takes new twist....War vets bay for Mutsvangwa's blood

by Mandla Ndlovu | 05 November 2018 | 816 Views

Chamisa demands Presidency

by Mandla Ndlovu | 05 November 2018 | 708 Views

Zimbabwean teachers miss out on New Zealand opportunity

by Staff Writer | 05 November 2018 | 651 Views

Zimbabwe to introduce e-provisional driver's exams

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 693 Views

Zimbabwe to supply water to South Africa

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 695 Views

Mnangagwa claims that 'good times will soon roll'

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 657 Views

Zimbabwe as a new gateway into Africa

by Hon. Prof Mthuli Ncube | 05 November 2018 | 760 Views

Chiyangwa appoint Karikoga Kaseke

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 659 Views

ZCTU demo: Ruling today

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 612 Views

Missing cop found dead

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 748 Views

Tagwirei marries long-time girlfriend

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 1167 Views

Zimbabwe relaxes maternity leave entitlement

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 712 Views

Zimbabwe to receive drugs, ambulances from India

by Staff reporter | 05 November 2018 | 633 Views