Prepare for early polls in Zimbabwe
Speaking at a lively Daily News discussion forum in Harare yesterday, MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said while he was “not a prophet who had the power to divine the future”, all indications were that President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF “are on their knees” and that “the regime has completely run out of ideas” to mitigate the suffering of the majority of Zimbabweans.
“The way I look at it, I don’t see this government, in whatever form it exists, lasting between now and 2018. What we are seeing now has never happened before — a government failing to pay civil servants and a government that is now staggering pay days.
“I believe that the next elections are going to come earlier than 2018. I am even willing to bet my last bond note on this,” he said.
The discussion forum, which was also attended by forthright Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) spokesman Douglas Mahiya, Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) bigwig Bright Matonga, and prominent academic and researcher Pedzisai Ruhanya, coincided with commemorations of the fifth anniversary of the Daily News’ improbable relaunch in late March 2011 — following nearly eight years of its forced and unjust closure by the government in September 2003.
Gutu said it was unheard of for security sector workers not to be paid their salaries on time as had “dramatically happened” this month, which highlighted the “unsustainable extent of the financial crisis” crippling the country.
“This has never happened before and this is only June 2016. For how long can this situation subsist? And this is a government that is supposed to be using no less than $200 million on salaries alone, and this $200 million is said to be 80 percent of what government is getting from Zimra because there is no production out there.
“At the end of the day we are therefore clearly dealing with a government that is now surviving from hand to mouth,” he said, also citing the crippling cash shortages which had lately resulted in long and winding queues resurfacing at local banks — raising growing fears that the country had slipped back into the horrific crisis of 2008.
The articulate Mahiya, while on one hand disagreeing with Gutu on his prediction, acknowledged on the other that things were not well in the country, adding that what was missing for Zimbabwe to prosper were dedicated and principled leaders to take forward the spirit of the liberation struggle.
“Nobody in this country would ever want to predict, even (Walter) Magaya is unable to prophesy what is going to happen because of the background of this country,” he said, adding that the day all Zimbabweans genuinely embraced the contributions that war veterans could continue to make to the country, many things would change for the better.
Ruhanya said Mugabe should shoulder most of the blame for having driven Zimbabwe tothe brink of bankruptcy, adding that it was also critical for both politicians and observers to realise that the political ground in the country had shifted.
“As it stands today in Zimbabwe the old is dying and the new cannot be born and in this interregnum a variety of morbid symptoms appear and these morbid symptoms you can see them if you look at the state of our head of state (Mugabe).
“Physical and mental mortality is something that cannot escape the eye and that physical and mental mortality is seen not only in those who govern, but also in the state of the economy,” he said.
“There has been a tectonic and monumental shift in the body politic of the Zanu-PF regime. Therefore, there has to be a shift in the manner in which we understand the problem.
“Previously, succession was solved by death in Zanu-PF, but we saw what happened to Joice Mujuru in 2014, where she was removed from the party,’ Ruhanya added as he urged the media to understand the shifting sands in Zanu-PF, while informing the public about what could happen in the next election.
He said the late vice presidents Joshua Nkomo, Simon Muzenda, Joseph Msika and John Landa Nkomo had died in office, a scenario that was looking increasingly unlikely to happen going forward.
Matonga warned opposition parties to shift their attention from bickering over “crumbs” to paying attention to Zanu-PF’s rural strongholds, if they entertained chances of bringing an end to Mugabe and the ruling party’s party’s grip on power.
“We are all to blame for the situation that we are in. As the opposition we need to work harder and go out there into the rural areas, and alsobe strategic. We are concentrating on areas where we have support already. There is need to shift attention to Zanu-PF’s strongholds, the rural areas.
“They (Zanu-PF) keep registers of their people and those that are not in the register are registered to vote, and I am speaking from experience. The opposition parties need to do more and try to win support in those areas where Zanu-PF is strong. Without that, Zanu-PF could win the elections again,” he said.
Political analyst Dewa Mavhinga also raised the possibility of early elections last week because of the prevailing dire economic situation in the country.
“It seems that people can see that major political changes are looming and that 2018 may be too far. It is possible that national elections will take place sooner than 2018 because of the economic implosion that could trigger unrest countrywide,” Mavhinga told the Daily News.
He spoke as other analysts said Zimbabwe was now in “full-blown election mode”, as political parties prepared for the eagerly-anticipated 2018 polls that some observers said could be marred by riots and violence, amid high chances that the opposition will work together to fight Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
“Look at how the Zanu-PF government is failing to pay civil servants, look at the rampant corruption and put that together with the vicious succession fights over who takes over from … Mugabe who refuses to step down.
“All these factors are the gathering cumulonimbus clouds of an imminent political storm that will be upon us way before 2018,” Mavhinga added.