It was almost like a chorus. Zimbabwe needs elections. The Zimbabwe National Union-Patriotic Front is delaying the implementation of the Global Political Agreement because it does not want to hold elections because it will lose. There are too many vacancies in Parliament but ZANU-PF is not willing to hold by-elections because it is afraid of losing. That was all in 2009, as people counted down days to September 11, the end of one-year after the signing of the GPA in 2008.
Donors, Western governments and non-governmental organisations inundated Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai with requests to press for elections otherwise they were not going to give the country much needed aid or funds to speed up its recovery. The only voices that said the country was not yet ready for elections were those of Arthur Mutambara and industry. But Mutambara was not taken seriously. Most people argued that he was just trying to buy time because he would not be in the next government since he had been deserted by his legislators. Industry was only interested in profits.
But when President Mugabe finally announced that elections would be held next year because he was fed up with his petty squabbles with Tsvangirai, everyone backtracked. Now there is talk that the climate is not right. There is talk that Mugabe wants to maintain his grip by holding elections which can only have one result- his victory. There is talk of pre-election violence. There is talk that journalists are being harassed in the run-up to the elections. There is talk that agricultural inputs are only being given to ZANU-PF loyalists to buy their vote. The list goes on.
The Insider had always argued that what Zimbabwe needs is not elections but economic recovery first. People need jobs. Businesses must recover. It is not politics that will bring about democracy. A sound economy will do that. There is every sign that the country can recover without any outside help if politicians stop squabbling and if Zimbabweans throw away their defeatist attitude. What Zimbabweans need first is food on the table not who is at the top of the table.
Even people that were sceptical about Zimbabwe’s recovery are slowly realising that no one – apart from the country’s political leaders and those Zimbabweans that do not believe in themselves- can derail this recovery. Right now, there is a scramble to invest in Zimbabwe. Most of the people that are making noise that the country will never recover while Mugabe is part of the government are among the biggest investors in the country. Their calls are a ruse to scare away other investors so that they can have the country to themselves.
The sad and unfortunate thing is that most of those buying their ruse are black Zimbabweans. They are being forced into petty squabbles about non- issues like elections, human rights- not that they should not be respected-while those scaring them away are buying huge chunks of local firms listed either on the Zimbabwe, Johannesburg or London Stock exchanges.
As former United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell said in his farewell report just released by Wikileaks, Mugabe has once again played his cards right. He is once again in full control and the MDC is back pedalling. Therein lies the danger. History shows that Mugabe rarely goes back on his word. If he says elections are going to be held. They are going to be held. But contrary to what others would want Zimbabweans to believe, Mugabe does not act independently. He implements policies of the party- ZANU-PF.
For more than five decades, ZANU-PF has described itself as a party of the people, which does the wishes of the people. If that is true, then President Mugabe should not call elections next year. The people do not want elections. Surveys including those by The Insider have clearly indicated that people do not want elections.
President Mugabe and his close advisors should listen to the people for once. When we talk about people we mean ordinary people, people that are not in the party district or provincial structures, people that are not in the party’s central committee, people that are not in the party’s politburo, but people that may not even have a ZANU-PF card, people that will vote ZANU-PF, MDC, Mavambo or any other party that they think will bring food to their tables, people that will not even go to the ballot box, the silent majority that does not support, ZANU-PF, MDC,Mavambo, ZAPU or any other party, people that just want to live peacefully in their country and do not care who is at the top as long as they have food on their tables. These are the people whose wishes have been trampled upon by the 5 000 or so that attend the ZANU-PF annual conference or national congress and claim they represent the wishes of the people of Zimbabwe as a whole. They do not. They only represent the wishes of ZANU-PF and President Mugabe is not just a president of ZANU-PF but a president of the whole country, including those that did not vote for him.