Sunday, 6 April 2008

Ziso: 'Killing Democracy with boredom'

Harare, 5 April

A definite gloom has settled in the country. The government is systematically boring the population out of the electoral process and ZEC has still not announced judgment of the presidential election. On the radio the results of the senatorial election are droned out at a snail’s pace. On the television, cartoons and reruns of football games. For most of the rural population little news has been heard, except of course for ZANU’s accusation that the MDC bribed election officers in 16 constituencies – these seats are going to be contested – a victory for ZANU will give them back the parliamentary majority. The ‘freeness and fairness’ of the election has not been contested by the opposition – one hopes the MDC can back up their claims of 50.3% victory in the presidential election and avoid a run-off which is bound to prove destructive to the ordinary person.

Apparently, the limit for a run off is anywhere between 3 weeks and 90 days – the government will of course buy time to send the fear-mongers out and swing what should be a landslide for the MDC to another defeat. In that 90 day interim, great suffering will take place. Not only will the economy crash (again!) after the state bankrolled the electoral process with toilet paper (headline of the Herald yesterday was the release of the 50 million dollar note! NB: read 50 billion as three noughts were cut off last year), but the widespread intimidation and suffering of the population is inevitable. This is what has caused the gloom in the country today. It is game-over for the current regime whether they like it or not. If not the MDC, then the economy is going to finally backlash on them. The few businesses keeping the country afloat are bound to leave if change is not afoot. It is just a pity that the transition period may involve violence and blood.

Less than 40% of the electorate voted on 29 March. The apathy is astounding. But when you watch how the government operates it is understandable. They have been shown time and time again that their vote means absolutely nothing. One would imagine the MDC would be more prepared to prove that rigging took place given that their victory has been stolen two times previously. The next few weeks will show whether their leadership is equipped to out-strategize the ZANU machine. A stronger alliance with MDC-Mutambara and Mavambo would create a united front in the opposition, but Tsvangirai seems to be going it alone. He has the overwhelming support of the nation, but the final battle of 90 days’ intimidation and violence could outwit and undermine his current lead. Mugabe’s is probably holding out till his 85th birthday to avoid being called to the Hague – his plan must be to win by any means and hand on to one of his loyalists next year. This could mean disaster.

The impasse that has been reached is indeed gloomy. Destabilization of the foreign press through arrests has created fear and havoc. The rumour mill claimed that Tendai Biti was in hiding after his public proclamation of MDC victory. But the city has resumed its pace and life is going on as normal. Everyone is bored with the election – they know it will get them nowhere. Soon the international interest will peter out, the press will go home and the world will focus on Palestine, Iraq, Sudan and other nations in crisis. Then in the isolated darkness, the intimidation will slowly spread and stifle the populace with absolute fear. Democracy in Zimbabwe will quietly suffocate.

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