The result announced by Zimbabwe´s electoral commission (ZEC) affirms that even after Mugabe´s fall the regime is still a dictatorship. The discontent of the working class continuous growing.
By: Américo Gomes
Even with a millionaire campaign, a dictatorial legislation, the control of the process, and troops in the streets, the candidate of the party that perpetuates itself in power, the African National Union of Zimbabwe-Patriotic Front (ZANU-FP), Emmerson Mnangagwa, accepts that he obtained only 2.46 million votes, against the opposition candidate, Chamisa, who got 2.15 million votes. In other words, exact 50.8%, to secure that there will not be second round in the elections. To avoid it, Mnangagwa needed to win with more than 50%.
The opposition party, “Movement for Democratic Changes” (MDC), denounced the fraud, even more because they could not monitor and check the result. The police prevented the opposition MDC alliance from performing a press conference, invaded their offices and arrested 18 people. Accusing them of “possession of dangerous weapons” and stimulating “public violence”
In the streets of the capital, the police killed six people who were protesting against the result. Armed troops with real ammunition were sent to disperse the demonstrators.
The fraud became evident when analyzing the parliamentary election’s result, in which ZANU – FP achieved absolute majority of seats in the National Assembly, according to the official result. Obtaining 144 seats, while MDC achieved 64, out of 210 total mandates in the National Assembly, which means, more than 68% of the parliament.
When the result came out, the opposition denounced the electoral fraud. There were clashes with the police in Hahare (the opposition center), in which real ammunitions were used, water cannons and tear gas, supported by armored vehicles and helicopters against the demonstrators, who blocked the streets near the hotel where the verification was being realized.
It shows that the fall of Robert Mugave’s government last year, and the ascension of his right arm, does not change the dictatorial regime in the country. The only difference is that the Mugabe’s name was not in the voting list, as it has happened for the last 40 years, period in which the elections always happened and have always been rigged.
The five elections occurred between 2000 and 2013 were characterized by manipulation, violence and intimidation, in which Mugabe did not respect any of the human or democratic rights. In 2002, his military leader and current vice president, Constantino Chiwenga, said that the armed forces would never greet a president that had not fought in the 70’s war of liberation, against the white minority regime in Rhodesia. This statement announced what would occur with a Morgan Tsvangirai’s victory, which occurred in the first round in 2008. Morgan was accused of being financed by the West, and the fraud secured that Mugabe would be in the second turn.
In the present elections, Mnangagwa confronted the opposition of Nelson Chamisa, of MDC, who was a member of the National Unity Government, which had Mugabe as leader. After that, he shifted for the opposition, doing a “loyal opposition to the dictatorial regime”.
The main objective of the regime was to win over the “international public opinion” to the idea that in the country there was “a democratic space that has never before existed”. He, the former chief of the intelligence service, violence and corruption promoter, became the political leader that restored the democracy in Zimbabwe. All this in service of achieving financial aid, which is desperately needed.
Elections do not Guarantee Democracy
Everything continues as before. The dictatorial legislation of Mugabe’s period was not revoked, as well as the Public Order Security Law (POSA), which requires that the police must be warned before any public meeting, assemblies or protests, punishing violently and arresting those who do not comply. Other example is the codification and reform criminal Law (CODE), which criminalizes “criticism” of the president and the publication of information that could cause some damage to the state and violate the public peace. Moreover, the law on public access to information and privacy protection (AIPPA) prevents the free flow of information and restricts the freedom of expression.
Mnangagwa always made it clear that Mugabe’s fall had as a first goal to save ZANU-FP of a defeat in 2018. For this reason, he also did not carry out changes in the electoral lists, which have been “worked” for more than thirty years. Organized to appear in a chaotic form, they hide many dead people’s names, multiple records and sub-records in certain areas. It also prevents the opposition control sheet.
The Zimbabwe’s election commission, composed of state’s security and intelligence agents, denied the opposition an independent audit. By the way, the same ZEC, was who, in 2008, after 45 days, announced the required second round for Mugabe to win from Tsvangirai. The independent researches pointed that Tsvangirai had the majority needed to avoid a second round, but ZEC stated that he obtained 47.9% of the votes, and Mugabe 43.2 %.
The period after the first round was characterized by much political violence. In June, Tsvangirai withdrew from the plea, and the second round had Mugabe as the single candidate, who won and was seated in another mandate as president.
Another Bonapartist aspect of the government is the control over the broadcast public media. Its coverage is biased in favor of ZANU-FP, which benefits from a huge amount of time in those media. The opposition does not have any time, and is described negatively. It happens in a country were the population essentially depends on radio to have information.
There is also the veritable fortune that ZANU-FP spent in elections. The party’s national commissioner, Lieutenant General Engelbert Rugeje said that the organization has millions to spend on campaign materials. Last year, the campaign run-up spent more than 60 million dollars just on 365 off-road vehicles for the candidates.
In 2013, Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, or Ford Everest were given to all of them. The ex ZANU’s electoral campaign organizer, Jonathan Moyo, who is now in political exile, revealed that the source of the campaign founds comes from diamond and state resource´s sale, which achieved at least 70 million dollars in 2013.
If all this does not guarantee the victory, there is always the army in the streets, with its repressive history of atrocities and political murders, as in Zimbabwe´s west, in the early 80s, and in all the electoral processes, in favor of ZANU-FP. In 2008, it made use of the violence against the electors, especially in rural areas, and intimidated the electoral court to ensure the second round.
As well as the police, which is being used in the electoral process and for the repression of demonstrators, and was used to guarantee the security on ZANU´s primary in April.
Elections (literally) to maintain Appearances
In a plan constructed with the big imperialist companies, Mnangagwa, as well as the ruling military bourgeoisie, had as main objective in the elections to create a democratic appearance, for imperialism to be able to guarantee and justify its investments.
With them, they intended to privatize or sell 35 state-owned companies and close at least two others, to cut costs and reduce a debt of 11 billion dollars, owned to creditors like the African Development Bank. Among the companies subject to privatization, are the Southern Africa postal service, Zimpost, the fixed telephony operator Telephone Corporation and 17 diamond mines, everything already announced by the finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa.
The Minister of foreign affairs, major-general Sibusiso Moyo, who commanded the army’s repressive operations in the provinces during the previous elections and appeared on television asking the Zimbabweans to remain calm before Mugabe´s fall, were the elected to accomplish the role of public relations to hundreds of international observers and foreign journalists invited. Their presence was crucial to give the appearance of free, fair and democratic elections. It seems that did not work due to the shameless electoral fraud and repression, with dead people in the streets.
The African Union mission had already declared that the elections “happened in a very peaceful atmosphere”. Besides, a preliminary report made by Southern African Development Community (SADC) observers claims that the elections were largely “peaceful and conducted in accordance with the law”. The South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has already congratulated Mnangagwa for his victory and appealed to the politicians and to the Zimbabwean people to accept the result of the election.
China endorsed the results and urged the “parties” to put the people’s and the country’s interest first and “respect the choice made by the people”. The role of these “electoral observers” had already been denounced in Kenya’s elections last year, which were initially announced by them as “free, fair and trustworthy”, in words of the former U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry.
The bourgeois generals that rule the country are anxious about Zimbabwe´s return to the Commonwealth (community of nations), from which [the country] was suspended in 2002. This way, the representatives of big international investment funds may come back without fear of investing huge amounts. The after-Brexit Great Britain also needs this deal, and gave clear support to Mnangagwa, but in order to be justified, they need free and democratic elections.
The plan is not working, because, at least initially, some of these “foreign observers” are condemning the use of troops and repression. This tainted Mugabe´s attempts to get rid of his status as despot, after decades of repression as Mugabe’s ally.
The Fight to oust the Generals’ Dictatorship must continue
However, the new government will face unemployment, hyperinflation and exodus of investments in a wrecked economy, with the health and education services in ruins. Partly because of seizure of the white-owned farms, by generals in Mugabe’s government that led the agriculture to a collapse and because of these generals’ corruption and thefts as they are involved in diamond trafficking.
The workers of Zimbabwe know that Mugabe was not deposed to restore democracy, and even less to guarantee any workers’ rights. Actually, Mnangagwa wanted to avoid Mugabe´s wife – Grace – from entering office.
Because of that, they do not trust the government, and know that they need to bring down the dictatorship once and for all, to obtain a minimum of democracy and the possibility to fight for their rights.
The dictatorship remains in Zimbabwe. That is why the first task of the proletariat is its downfall. Clearly, the political situation in the country will not stabilize with this grotesque electoral sham.
Translated by: Roberta Maiani