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end games of Zimbabwe's inclusive government
July 03, 2012
parties in Zimbabwe's inclusive
government have now begun playing out their electoral end games
eleven months prior to the expiry of its constitutional term of
office in June 2013. There have been varying public statements from
the three parties in government about the actual date of elections
and which ever way one looks at it, election season is now firmly
upon us again. Whereas Zanu PF has been insisting on elections being
held this year, that can now be considered a moot point given the
hints by some of its newspaper columnists that it is well nigh impossible
to have both a constitutional referendum and an election in terms
of a new constitution in the next eleven months.
The MDCs, on
the other hand, have been arguing for the full implementation of
the SADC facilitated election road map. They however must most certainly
know that again in the limited time period available, they will
not get everything that they are requesting short of a constitutional
amendment that extends the lifespan of this current government.
And for this, they would require an almost impossible to get two-thirds
majority in Parliament.
At best the MDCs will probably have to revert back (amidst Zanu
PF resistance) to the Electoral
Amendment Bill (amongst other potential or existent laws) to
try and integrate the provisions of the SADC facilitated road map
into domestic law.
the outcome of all of these contestations, the issue of elections
is no longer as distant as it was two years ago. In fact, it has
become evidently more urgent for political parties within and without
of the inclusive government and as such, the Zimbabwean public must
brace themselves for highly politicized debates and an increasingly
polarized political environment. In this, there will be the revival
of the old rivalries of 2008 and mudslinging between leaders in
the inclusive government about the performance of rivals in the
last four years.
The images of
friendly leadership handshakes will decrease and we will all be
asked to demonstrate loyalty to one party over the other without
really questioning issues of the policy substance that has been
provided by the inclusive government in the period that it has existed.
It is because of such a potential development that one can reasonably
argue that we are now entering a political period in which we should
no longer expect much by way of non-partisan or 'common ground'
policy from the inclusive government.
Each party will
angle what it would call its own 'exclusive' policies in the inclusive
government as evidence of its ability to govern and therefore its
electability over the others. Zanu PF will insist that it's indigenisation
programme has been a success while MDC will argue that were it not
for its control of broader economic policies, hyper-inflation would
still be knocking on every citizens door. Blame games for the undemocratic
and expensive constitutional
reform process under COPAC will reach a particular partisan
crescendo because it is the one thing that all parties in the inclusive
government cannot skirt collective responsibility on.
The actual reality
for the everyday citizens will however not be as frenetic or as
emotive as that of those that will be seeking their votes. They
will view and participate in the electoral processes either out
of cultural and political coercion or even self aggrandizement than
belief in any particular principles. This being a direct result
of the fact that the inclusive government has had little to offer
by way of inspiring its own people to believe in anything else but
survival of the 'fittest' and the cliched 'kiya-kiya' political
economy. Add to this, the clear distinction between the profligate
lifestyles of those in government and the majority populace has
already led to a cynical electorate which may seek more to gain
materially in the immediate than to challenge political leaders
on the country's future. So there will be the positioning of money,
jobs and drought relief handouts in direct return for votes from
a public that knows that without taking advantage of the elections,
these material benefits would be few and far between.
So as Zimbabwe
enters this protracted election season, it is of importance that
civil society organisations take non-partisan stock of the inclusive
government based on democratic values and principles. Where this
is not done, it is the country that will be the worse off in the
present and in the future. It is also imperative that the inclusive
government be brought to account not merely on the basis of the
personalities that comprise it, but on its performance when measured
by social democratic value and principles.
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