zimbabwe state of mind

Zimbabwe State of Mind - Part Four

People in Zimbabwe believe that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the 2008 election and that SADC cooked a democratic insurace to stop the country from sliding into chaos and violence after it became obvious that some state organs had a problem with change. And unfortunately that insurance is expiring on June 29 this year and whatever happens after that is left to speculation.  The centre will still hold but it's what will hold it together that worries many. It's my point of departure in my coversation with Zimbabwe Elections Support Network General Secretary Reverend Dr Solmon Zwana as we meet to discuss the coming elections in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe Elections Support Network's Rev Dr Solom Zwana
Dr Zwana is a sober character who speaks with authority and has an imposing presence while not being intimidating. He says the elections risk being rigged based on the voter registration hurdles that are being put infront of potential voters - especially the youth. As indicated earlier they need proof of residence and that document is not free and fair even though it's part of an election that should be free and fair.

He is adamant that the current requirements for qualifications are likely to result in many young people not qualifiying to vote and then tipping the scale in favour of the status quo since the most tired people are the youth. He puts blame on the Registry-General who tends to pretend that it's science to figure out how many people are eligible to vote in a country of 12 million citizens. My thinking is that if you put a birth register, a 2008 voter's roll and a death register you end up with living potential voters.

However Dr Zwana says while the youth have a potential to be game-changers it is not only the opposition that is mentoring them for roles in political activism as ZANU-PF is also breeding its own young people for tasks it might have for them in the future. In 2008 most of the pre-election violence was carried out by young people and Zwana is conscious if they did it once they can do it again. I ask about the militia and he assures me there is a core and subcontracts to violence. He says there are fears they might be activated for the upcoming elections and the War Veterans, which he describe as the reserve army of ZANU-PF might be mandated to unleash terror to tip the scales.

Zwana is an elder who is sensitive to national feelings of sovereignity and that is the reason why SADC can not be seen to be dictating to the Zimbabwean political parties on how they should conductt their own elections. They can only observe. He says SADC has played its role up to now but must find a non-intrusive way to make sure that its insurance delivers democracy to Zimbabwe instead of maintaining the status quo.

I meet Dr Zwana an hour later at a media conference with other civil society organisations. He is the guy delivering the statement condemning the voter registration process and calling on a more inclusive pre-election process which will add value to the democratisation process which he agrees goes beyond voter registration and the actual casting of the ballot.

The media conference is well-attended by largely the progressive media and questions are posed and answered in a convincing manner. The common thread is that they are all patriots concerned with what democracy means; and what it currently means to Zimbabwe and what it should be.

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