HARARE – With the 2018 elections on the horizon, Zanu PF seems to have captured key institutions like Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC), ZBC, police and army among others that can aid it to win the elections.
But how can this state capture be addressed before the poll as Zanu PF is also in the habit of using state resources in the campaigns?
Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga said Zimbabweans have been on this path one too many times that the state capture before elections is not new at all, hence the whole issue around “no reforms, no elections”.
“We have been on this path one too many times that the state capture before elections is not news. These are issues where civics and opposition parties need to zero in and mount pressure for reforms. It’s sad that while Zanu PF is oiling the rigging machinery through capturing state institutions, opposition are doing kleptrape and toying around MoUs and enmeshing themselves in confusion.
“They simply need to coalesce and demand reforms now before any election is held. They need to create necessary political crisis that makes Zanu PF carve in and yield to reforms.
“But as long as they are so confused, there will be no prize for guessing which party will form next government by crook and hook,” said Mavhinga.
Political activist Tabani Moyo said: “When we have a vibrant opposition, these are the things that should top the agenda in mobilising all the stakeholders towards the reforms and ensuring institutions are strong and independent.
“This only happens when the opposition has a strong nerve centre and technically equipped to ensure that the institutions work towards the peoples of Zimbabwe needs especially in delivering a democratic verdict.”
Moyo added though that the opposition has a dual role of fighting for the liberation of the institutions and mobilizing the peoples of Zimbabwe towards believing into the electoral system once again.
Media practitioner Tawanda Majoni said the tendency in most post-colonial African states has been for sitting governments to abuse their incumbency to capture and manipulate key election-related public agencies for political self-preservation.
“These governments have deliberately resisted meaningful reformation as it would weaken their chances of remaining in power, particularly where the political opposition is strong and the sitting regime is faced with severe socio-economic and political problems.
“The solution, therefore, is for the opposition, civil society and other non-State actors to fight for broad-ranging reforms that would promote professionalism, transparency and accountability of these institutions,” said Manjoni.
He added that unfortunately, there is little time to fight for and ensure these reforms before the 2018 elections. “This is because the opposition and non-State agencies do not seem to have sustainable strategies to fight for and win adequate reformation of public institutions.”
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said the main reason why they are demanding electoral reforms is to ensure that the elections next year are conducted in a free and fair environment that will guarantee a credible and legitimate result.
“It is very true that the Zanu PF regime has captured all the essential organs of the state such as ZEC, ZACC, the police, army and the CIO.
“For many decades now, the ZBC has been reduced to being a Zanu PF propaganda mouthpiece. This is the reason why the majority of Zimbabweans are tuned in to satellite television and alternative media such as social media.
“This regime is beyond redemption; it cannot and will not be reformed or rehabilitated. The only thing that has to be done is to affect a complete and thorough regime collapse and regime annihilation, Nothing short of this will be sufficient to create and construct a new developmental, progressive and democratic nation state in Zimbabwe,” said Gutu.
He added that it is clear that the Zanu PF regime is already preparing to rig next year’s elections in a very big way. “What we have to do now is to devise and come up with a sustainable and viable plan B in the event that all indicators keep pointing to the holding of a massively rigged election in 2018.
“We should take some very hard and tough decisions that include, but are not limited to, a total boycott of a sham and illegitimate electoral process.”
Mining activist Farai Maguwu said: “The 2018 election is a lost cause unless the opposition changes strategy. There is need for massive civic disobedience demanding genuine reforms.
“It’s foolishness for the opposition to participate in this sham election and cry foul afterwards. They simply need to take a stand and say no election before genuine reforms.
“Zanu PF has captured all state institutions and in such a scenario an election is the opposition versus the state and always the state wins.”
Media practitioner Nigel Nyamutumbu said the only feasible intervention against the state capture by Zanu PF which “has long declared that it will not reform itself out of power is for citizens to mobilize and actively campaign for the implementation of the Constitution that guarantees the independence of these key electoral institutions.
“We have to revive a culture of active citizenry to demand our rights and to leave no space for the ruling party to manipulate the Constitution and ultimately control all electoral processes. More than anything, active citizenry will change Zimbabwe’s situation.”
Political commentator Vivid Gwede said partisan capture of state institutions has contributed immensely to Zimbabwe’s unfair elections.
“The playing field is not level, but objectively tilted in favour of the ruling party. As we go to the 2018 elections, recommendations made by previous observer missions must be revisited.
“Some of them have suggested that abuse of state institutions is violating our own Constitution as well as SADC and AU principles governing democratic elections, for example, the partisan nature of the state-owned media and security institutions.
“In addition to concentrating on the BVR process, this is what Zinera must clarify in terms of reforms. The recommendations made by observer missions after each election are not merely academic, but must be taken into account in successive elections.”