Zimbabwe’s 2018 Elections: A Postmortem

The Kubatana Team went to the SAPES Policy Dialogue yesterday: Zimbabwe’s 2018 Elections: A Postmortem. Granted, as one participant (himself a pathologist!) said, can we have an election postmortem if the patient hasn’t been certified dead (meaning, presumably, Chamisa’s upcoming legal challenge).

Anyway, we’re not sure if it was the date or the time or the venue or the speakers Or What but eish was it poorly attended. Of the four speakers who had confirmed their participation, only Tony Reeler of the Platform for Concerned Citizens arrived. Kenneth Mtata of Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Qhubani Moyo of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Andrew Makoni of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network all said they would come, or later said they’d send a representative, but none of them arrived. The meeting was chaired by Thoko Matshe, who let Tony present his points, took many questions and comments from the floor, and then let Tony wrap up before saying a few words herself.

Below, we sum up what participants at the meeting said. But we also want to hear from you: What do you think? What did you expect after the election? What do you think should happen from here? App us back!

+++++

Tony Reeler said that, as he’d said at a SAPES meeting before the election as well, it wasn’t possible to have a free, fair and credible election in Zimbabwe at this time. He mentioned the scenarios the Platform for Concerned Citizens had anticipated in 2016: A soft landing, where Zimbabwe has reforms and then elections, or a hard landing – conflicts within the ruling party, political paralysis, economic decay, and a coup. Zimbabwe got the coup.

Reeler discussed the issues with Zimbabwe’s election and its legitimacy regarding the voters roll, ballot papers and results. He said there had been insufficient transparency in all of these steps, and as a result the process was disputed and the results were disputed. He said Zimbabwe now was more divided than five years ago, and that the return of violence meant Zimbabwe’s pariah state status might continue, and livelihoods and the economy would worsen. Reelers said Zimbabwe might appear peaceful but there is a deep history of violence and trauma which has not been addressed. This has to get fixed as much as the economy. Healing produces reconciliation. That is what is needed. Peace and trust. The way out of this, Reeler suggested, was a national stakeholders conference to address the disputed election process, a mediated conversation which might result in a national transitional authority, or another process to ensure reforms and legitimacy, before new, credible elections were held. Reeler suggested the church could take a leading role in convening this process and promoting national healing.

The trouble with Zimbabwe is that we don’t listen, said Thoko Matshe. Even when people make suggestions based on deep analysis and deep love for the country.

But what happened on 30 July was free fair and incontestable said one audience member. It was decisive. So anything that contravenes this process is revisionist because some people cannot fathom losing. We need to accept outcomes of elections not attention seek. He said the people did not vote for a Government of National Unity. So the country needs to move on and accept the results. Let’s give our all and support this government in front of the international community.

Another participant said that his major worry as a country is the anger and division and partisan nature of discussion. We lose the plot when as citizens we put party interest before national interest. He said, we are all Zimbabweans. That should be the one thing that holds us together.

Chester Mhende said he had been an independent candidate for Zvimba East. He said for years he lived outside the country because of the economy. He came back in January because he felt positive about the future. He disqualified as a candidate with Zanu PF & stood as an independent. He faced a lot of scepticism from voters. He said up to 3 weeks ago the election was “fair” but his posters were being pulled down. In last two weeks presidential inputs handed out, food handed out. People told if they supported him, they wouldn’t get handouts. He says there was massive intimidation, including on election day and at polling stations. So, he said, he is very disturbed. He thought Zimbabwe had moved forward. He believed what he’d heard in the media. He wasn’t expecting presidential handouts and food handouts and intimidation. Then people would be freely expressing themselves. But they didn’t.

One participant commented that Chamisa has accepted parliamentary results but not presidential. So are they free fair and credible or not, he asked. The National Transitional Authority is elitist. People don’t know that model. Why do you want to push it, he asked Reeler.

Another participant said that elections should be a way to peacefully put in place our differences of opinion says one participant. We’re suspicious of one another because we don’t talk. Differences of opinion are normal. They’re not personal.

+++++++

What do you think? What did you expect after the election? What do you think should happen from here?

Comment is free! Let us know what you think Zimbabwe should do now.