eople wonder why President Robert Mugabe wants Zimbabwe to hold elections this year. It seems to be too late for elections to be conducted this year but Mugabe is convinced that it can be possible. Mugabe has insisted that money has to be found for elections to go ahead this year with or without a new constitution while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says elections can only be held after constitutional and election reforms are complete.
The most undeniable reason why Mugabe wants early elections is his age. He is 88 years old and he knows if elections were to be held two or three years from now, his political muscle will no longer be able to shoulder the burden, hence according to him the sooner the better. He is also cognizant of the fact that the MDC leadership isn’t only gaining the political landmark they need to win the elections but they are getting stronger everyday with its local supporters backed by the external assemblies like the MDC-USA, UK, Ireland and South Africa.
The other reason why Mugabe is pushing for elections this year is the absence of reforms that favor his party, ZANU PF. The media is state controlled and with no media reforms in place, Mugabe knows this alone is an advantage to his party. Radio, television and some parts of the press like the Herald, remain loyal and act as mouthpieces for ZANU-PF while some media outlets continue to denounce the MDC as a “puppet” for the West.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) hasn’t been fully reformed to make it independent and provide a level playing ground for all parties involved. The electoral commission is pro-ZANU PF and the MDC can’t take part in an election which they know will be polemical to the cause.
Mugabe is also aware that his key and loyal security agencies are losing faith in him and that’s the reason why several figures have been fostered in key areas especially the CIO and the military.
In November 2010, Henry Muchena from the Air Force of Zimbabwe was sent to the ZANU PF headquarters in Harare and assigned to lead a team of 300 army officers deployed around the country to help Mugabe’s party rebuild its warped structures. Chiweshe was in May 2011 unilaterally appointed by Mugabe as the new High Court Judge. He presided the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that kept Mugabe in power in 2008 by withholding election results for a month while they altered figures to force a presidential run-off.
This clearly shows that Mugabe would rather have elections as soon as possible while the security agencies continue to terrorize the Zimbabwean people.
In June this year, SADC blocked Mugabe’s push for early elections and forced him to implement media and security reforms.
The MDC shouldn’t be forced to do what it considers the least priority on their agenda. The most visible item on the agenda is the constitution reform. This should also include the security, media and the electoral reforms that will enable Zimbabweans to vote for a candidate of their choice. Tsvangirai and the MDC should remain resolute with interminable vision to helping the Zimbabwean people and ignore a call for early election for it will only be beneficial to ZANU PF.
---The author is vice chair of MDC in Columbus, Ohio, USA