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Without a clean poll, Zim doomed



PHEW, what a week!

Events on the economic front are moving at a frenetic pace, although a visitor from planet Mars would be forgiven for thinking that we are still a good three years away from the general election.

In previous polls, the streets would have been awash with campaign posters and party regalia at this stage of the political game.

Two months before the 23 August election, there is really no indication that a big contest is around the corner. It appears the various political contestants are banking on a dramatic sprint to the finish line — rather than a hard-slog marathon.

Do not let the placid waters fool you; storm clouds are gathering on the horizon and a raging tempest is brewing.

 Currency volatility and inflation have decimated the Zimbabwe dollar.

Prices have gone haywire, leaving consumers at the mercy of a cost-of-living crisis that has evoked memories of the disastrous hyperinflation of 2008.

 There is one question on everyone’s lips: Are Zimbabweans sleepwalking into yet another disputed election? The opposition — as has become custom on the eve of polls — is now loudly demanding electoral reforms.

 What reforms can we realistically envisage at the 11th hour and long after the proclamation of the election date?

Opposition leaders have a whole raft of demands these days: an electronic voters’ roll; an auditable vote register; the real-time transmission of presidential election results; and the introduction of the diaspora vote.

The glib expectation that such far-reaching changes to the electoral process can be made on the eve of an election defies logic.

 Some of these demands should have been tabled a four or five years ago. But make no mistake, this does not in any way absolve the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and the ruling Zanu PF.

As exclusively reported by The NewsHawks last week, a shadowy outfit linked to state intelligence, Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz), has deployed officers at virtually every polling station.

 These spooky characters are coercing voters into revealing their home addresses, identification particulars and phone numbers.

Such scandalous tactics are clearly illegal and amount to blatant intimidation in a country in which the “margin of terror” has kept Zanu PF in power.

The jury is still out on whether Zec — whose image has long been tainted by accusations of bias and political capture — will take decisive action to rein in Faz, without fear or favour and in the national interest. We advise you not to hold your breath.

 Estsblished in terms of section 238 of Zimbabwe’s constitution, Zec is supposed to be an independent chapter 12 institution.

 When you consider the countless irregularities arising from the voters’ roll, the only logical conclusion you arrive at is that Zec has already failed the credibility test — and dismally so.

 In electoral politics, a voters’ roll is really the election.

When an election management body not only refuses to avail the electronic vote register but also shows no willingness to comprehensively address the shortcomings to the satisfaction of all stakeholders, such an institution cannot be trusted.

Zec has displayed serious weaknesses in addressing fundamental structural deficiencies in the running of elections.

 A few fays ago, we witnessed the police’s brutal response to harmless attempts by the opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change to formally present grievances to the Zec office in Harare.

Truncheon-wielding cops descended on the peaceful petitioners. Zec has perennially failed to discharge its constitutional and statutory functions.

 It has never taken action against Zanu PF for abusing state resources in its campaigns. It has never disqualified a ruling party candidate for political violence — despite the glut of evidence.

It must never be forgotten that, without a clean and credible election, Zimbabwe will degenerate to a fully-fledged failed state.

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