Did I Miss Where The Celebrations Are?

Events of the last couple of days have proved what many of us have been saying - the leopard cannot change its spots. With both local and international media watching, security forces under the command of Mr. Emmerson Mnangagwa have taken the lives of six innocent civilians, harassed journalists at Bronte Hotel while they waited an MDC Alliance Press Conference, and also allegedly were brutalising people in Kuwadzana and Mabvuku. Truly, Zimbabwe is open - but for something else, not business.

I would like to say a couple of things before you read my case: firstly, I am not a member of the MDC-Alliance, or of any other political party for that matter, although I did vote for Nelson Chamisa on election day. My views on politics are simply based on conviction on good governance, rational, morality and valuing of human dignity. Even a ZANU PF candidate exhibited any of these above traits I would have voted for them equally.

Secondly, I do think that we made a huge mistake when we took part in a military coup, and the illegal ouster of despot, Robert Mugabe. Look, we wanted the man to go, but clearly the means with which he was taken out were illegitimate and we are "enjoying" the fruit of all this today as we see the army revealing its true colours. What started as a romantic dance in November 2017 has culminated into a duel of swords, howbeit only one side has a sword, the other is unarmed. I do regret my part in celebrating a "military takeover". We were just to excited to think rationally.

Election Day was very peaceful. I cast my ballots at the St. Augustine Catholic University of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo East. The mood was very very chilled. Standing in line with me was a group of very smart and intelligent Zimbabwean brothers and sisters who I had never met my whole life. We had conversations about all things political, and soon enough, it seemed we all were going to vote for the same people based on our thoughts on the current government. I think I was in line for about 3 hours (plus or minus) before I was in the little booth, putting my "X"s where I thought they deserved to be. Afterwards, I waited in line with my brother Simba, as he was on another line, we waited for about another 90 minutes before he cast his ballot. We then went to his house and had lunch. Pretty chilled day by many standards for a Zimbabwean election. Impressive.

But the elephant in the room was always the question: will the will of the people be respected or will it be subverted as per usual Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) "best practice". We waited with anticipation. And the waiting was filled with much anxiety as many Zimbabwean would know just how many elections have been stolen in this country.

Let me pose here to say this: I would wish and pray that our friends from SADC, and other African countries would be careful to congratulate Mr. Mnangagwa, without understanding the context of electoral malpractice in this country. I see a lot of South African politicians taking a stand and in a sense claiming Chamisa's claims are unbelievable even before he has presented his evidence. The danger in this is that you might legitimise the illegitimate and guess who loses? The Zimbabweans. Reminds me of President Thabo Mbeki's reluctance too back in the day.

Zanu-PF’s power was contested in elections in 2002 and 2008 – with violent consequence. And South Africa – under former President Thabo Mbeki at the time – took a soft stance on it. In true SADC brothers and sisters fashion, Mbeki ignored the Kamphepe Report which clearly showed of the gross human right abuses, and the killing of over 100 people by Zanu PF youths. The report that has become known as “the Khampepe Report” was commissioned by former President Thabo Mbeki who had former high court judges Dikgang Moseneke and Sisi Khampepe lead a Judicial Observer Mission (JOM). The JOM was tasked with observing the 2002 Zimbabwean elections and reporting to Mbeki on their observations. We would later learn that this report informed the South African government that the 2002 Zimbabwean elections were not ‘free and fair’.

Despite the Khampepe Report informing the South African government that the 2002 Zimbabwean elections were not free and fair, Mbeki continued to endorse the Zimbabwean elections and support the view held by the South African Observer Mission (SAOM) that the elections were legitimate. So, I mean, SADC and AU countries in my view can be pretty useless in actually helping countries in turmoil. And it goes on and on today, same old stances. Totally deplorable. For the past years our brothers have failed us dismally.

When the results of the parliamentary started coming out, a lot of my friends, like myself, were super disinterested because it felt like a ploy of sorts to dishearten people. They announced all the places ZANU PF won, before they started announcing places that other candidates won. It felt like a drag.

By 10pm on Thursday when the results for the presidential election started getting announced, I was eagerly sitting on the couch to hear what they had to say. Some of the numbers did not even make sense just to the ear, and when you look at actually figures (I hate Maths, by the way, had to re-write it at O-level!) you could see clearly some inconsistencies which could not be easily ignored. See my Facebook time for an example of the Mashonaland Central result.

Went to bed feeling robbed, in all honestly. Just didn't make sense at all. When we woke up on Friday morning, the day was gloomy. Many people would attest to this - it was gloomy for both us who are in cities and for the few people in rural areas who I know and am in touch with. This is painstakingly different from the jovial celebrations when Mugabe resigned - that was a clear and blatant show of Zimbabweans' will then! But this election result, which is being challenged by the MDC-Alliance does not feel the same.

If anything, I am waiting to see the pictures or videos of people celebrating, hooting and having fun. Its all but small pockets that I have heard of. Look, someone would say there were celebrations in rural areas - and that is fair enough, maybe there were, but everybody I know - whatever party they are in - is filled with gloom. How do you celebrate any of this? Victory, coupled with murder and military force excesses is actually a loss. You rig votes, but you cannot rig the truth - and the truth is so thick in the air you could almost cut it.

If anything, reports of the military causing havoc in Harare are so disturbing and Mr. Mnangagwa's PR campaign has just gone down the drain.

My problem with Zanu PF has been very simple - they have robbed us of dignity as a country, and I do not ever see them reforming by recycling the same people and the same politics of fear and intimidation. I have argued that Zanu PF can only reform if they vacate the sit of power for a season. As long as its leaders are career-politicians, the corruption, brutality and non-development will never end. You can take Mugabe out of Zanu PF, but clearly, after 38 years, it takes way more to take Zanu PF out of Mugabeism. This is a system, brothers and sisters - not just a political party. It's a way of doing things. And as evidenced by the last few days, the system is still the same, sadly.

If Zanu PF had won this election freely and fairly, with no pre-election issues, and post election shenanigans, I doubt anyone, from any party would have problems. Infact, we could move on better as a country. We want to return to legality. To the rule of law. To the truth. To morality. To value of life, To dignity. Is that too much to ask for?

I join with my brothers and sisters to mourn, and hope.

May the Lord bless the people of Zimbabwe, and use this time to make us turn to Him for salvation, and hope.

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