By Linda Tsungirirai Masarira
Have you noticed that the ruling party is not concerned about the 2018 election? Do you often wonder why? The answer is simple, they have the election bagged! When you are in ZANU pf your biggest opposition is in ZANU pf. If you win the primary elections you have won the seat. What is left is for the rubber stamping by the opposition. The election is really just the legitimization of the ZANU pf win. So how do they make the win so certain?
(1) Blind siding the opposition.
In my opinion this is the most important part of the rigging. San Tsui, in his celebrated treatise The Art of War said that deception is everything. When you are weak make the enemy think you are strong. When you are at your strongest make the enemy think you are at your weakest. When you are going right make the enemy think you are going left. Deception, is all there is to war. Sheer force may win you a few battles but it will not win you the war! So how does the ruling party use the old advice? They make the opposition think that they will rig this way when they will in fact rig it that way. They will definitely have players working that deceptive angle and even look for ways to use that to their advantage.
(2) Control the electoral commission.
Right now the supposedly rigging machine revolves around ZEC and the election process. But in essence the rigging is a bit of everything. In other words how do you straighten ZEC? It is a mammoth task because ZEC is in effect ZANU pf. There is no way they are going to make reforms that will eventually boot them out of office. If you doubt that ZEC is ZANU pf then all you need to be told is that Rita Makarau was at some point a ZANU pf MP. Not an ordinary MP at that, but a special one. The one that you don’t vote for. An MP without a constituency is an appointed MP. In other words this is someone who may be rejected by the people but still becomes an MP because the leader wants him or her. So whichever way you look at it Makarau owes Mugabe and all the rigging she does is her way of showing appreciation or paying back. ZEC is filled with these Makaraus who think they owe Mugabe and rigging for him is their way of paying him back for his benevolence. Think of ZEC as a player referee.
So in the event that ZANU pf loses the elections what do you think will happen to Rita Makarau? Do you think she will remain the head of ZEC? Of course not. And she knows it. When she rigs for ZANU pf she will just be protecting her job. If the opposition wins and keep Makarau then they are bigger fools than we thought. There are many in ZEC who owe their livelihoods to ZANU pf’s continued stay in power. Those are the people who will cook the figures until a 70% ZANU pf loss will become a 49% loss that can secure a rerun.
(3) Control the courts.
Then after the elections, there will come the court cases. The opposition will have to take their grievances to the courts and who presides over these cases? Another Chidyausiku? Chidyausiku the late was at some point a ZANU pf politician just like Makarau, and he died ZANU pf. One thing that has been made abundantly clear by the ruling party is, only those who are ZANU pf are buried at their heroes acre. This has been stressed again and again when people questioned why men and women of worth who were not in ZANU pf but contributed a lot to the nation died and did not get recognition. Only those who die in ZANU pf are buried at that acre and well Chidyausiku is there at the acre. This ZANU pf operative is the same person the opposition ran to with their grievances whenever the election was rigged. You all noticed how the debate for the replacement of Chidyausiku was also a ZANU pf thing. There was never a question as to whether the shortlisted candidates were ZANU pf. The question was to which ZANU pf faction does he or she belong? No matter how overwhelming the evidence against ZANU pf will be in a court case to determine whether the election was rigged or not, the verdict will always be in favour of ZANU pf. Of course, to give a semblance of fairness, a few insignificant cases will be awarded to the opposition, but the presidential case will never be won by the opposition! This has happened a lot. Some disputed seats were awarded to the opposition or a rerun was ordered.
So we have just established that the ZEC and the judiciary are ZANU pf. ZANU pf may have a billion cracks and just as many factions but they have people in all the significant positions who can guarantee them the win so they are really not worried. I mean, if you were in ZANU pf would you be worried right now?
(4) Control the men in uniform.
ZANU pf has the police, the army and the prison services. ZANU pf has the country’s intelligence agencies. The police, the army, the prison services, and the intelligence community do not serve Zimbabwe, they serve ZANU pf. That is why you see that opposition activists are abducted by the police, the army or those in the countries intelligence agencies. The police commissioner or whatever name they gave him is ZANU pf. The army general is ZANU pf. These are the people who keep saying that they won’t salute an opposition leader. Of course they won’t because they know that the moment the opposition wins they will be out of jobs. In fact those positions are supposed to be held by one person for only two terms. Constitutionally speaking they are already out of jobs so when they give such speeches they will be singing for their suppers. They will do all they can to keep ZANU pf in power. That is why they will not be replaced. A new untested army commissioner may just not think that he owes Mugabe anything. And that kind of person just won’t do in such positions. You need someone who will dispatch soldiers to protect the party when the country is burning.
(5) Disenfranchise the civil servants
The only government people who have proven to be difficult to manipulate are the civil servants. The ordinary nurse, the ordinary registrar worker, the ordinary teacher has fought mind battles with the ZANU pf machinery. The new curriculum, the KRAs, the public service inspectors and all sorts of instruments are being used to keep this group of people busy so that it has no time to fight the system. But ZANU has an answer for them too. They are disenfranchised.
During elections most civil servants are given duties outside their constituencies so that they do not vote on the day. The opposition knows that the bulk of these civil servants are their supporters so they pushed for the special vote for all civil servants who won’t be working in their constituencies on election day. To counter this, ZEC made sure that there will be only one polling station for the whole constituency for the special vote. And just to make sure the civil servants are really disenfranchised they also included neighborhood watch committees people there. You have to have witnessed this to believe it. Firstly, you go in the morning to cast your vote, but the real voting starts at around 11 pm. By 12 am only a few people will have voted and by a few I am talking about 10-20 people out of thousands. The casting of the vote is done in a small tent and people don’t queue to vote but a register is called out. So only the “neighborhoods” are called out and by 12 am you technically can not vote any more because this special vote has to be done on one designated day. So a ZEC official addresses you and says, voting has closed but since we recognise that many have not voted, another day will probably be set aside to finish up this special vote thing or your special voting kit will be send to your polling station on election day. And that, dear reader is the end of the story. Out of thousands and thousands of potential voters only 20 or say 40 vote. That is how the civil servants were disenfranchised in 2013 and I am certain the same thing will be done again next year.
(6) Legitimatize the election by deploying the state machinery in full force to maintain order and close bases.
The chaos you see on the special voting day will be gone on D day. There will be order and an unbelievable efficiency. On average 100 or more people will vote in an hour. On election day peace will be maintained because any form of violence or disorderly contact will render the election invalid and this has to be avoided at all costs.
(7) Intimidate, beat and kill
Looking for signs of rigging on election day is just a waste of time. The real rigging happens before election day when torcher bases, roadblocks and all the toi toiing will be done. This is when the rural folk will be told that there will be cameras in the polling stations that will show us who has voted for the opposition. Some will be told to write down the serial numbers on their ballot papers so that we can check that you voted for us. And others will be told to fake illiteracy and request to be assisted to vote. Just so the seriousness of the situation is shown without doubt some people will just have to be disappeared or killed. This is normally done well before the regional and international observers are invited.
Like I said earlier the rigging works because it is not one rigging method. There are a lot of potential rigging ways that are pursued. Every department will be working its rigging angle. The army and the police will only be deployed to preserve order where the opposition will be winning battles against the ZANU hooligans. Where ZANU will be in control the police will be on stand by. You won’t see a single policeman out on the streets.
So winning the peaceful civil way, through elections and the courts is not possible. Winning the warrior way through violence is also not possible. You can’t outgun or outshoot these people.
If the real rigging happens before how then should the opposition counter this? The answer still lies in and with the people. Educate the rural folk and really make them understand the voting process. Clearly show them how the intimidation will always keep them subservient. Make them see the benefits of an uncontested vote. I am not here saying that the opposition should not work all the other angles. I am just saying the people angle is still the most important because power comes from the people. No matter how a minority may seem invincible, ultimately the majority will rise and take back their power. Mightier empires than this have fallen. This system will also fall. When it will happen is not really a question of time but a question of someone realising that the people have all the power.
I rest my “curse!”